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Full text of "The story of Johnstown: its early settlement, rise and progress, industrial growth, and appalling flood on May 31st, 1889"

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COPffilGHT DEPOSfT. 



The Story of Johnstown. 



"/ could a tale unfold, whose lightest word 
Would harrow up thy soul; freeze thy young bicod ; 
Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres. ' 

—Shakespeare. 




K<V*>> 



The 



Story of Johnstown 



ITS EARLY SETTLEMENT, RISE AND PROGRESS, INDUSTRIAL 
GROWTH, AND APPALLING FLOOD ON 
MAY 3 1ST, 11 



By J. J. McLAURIN 

Editor Harrisburg Telegram 



Prefatory Note by REV. JOHN R. PAXTON, D. D., of New York 



Illustrated by 

Baron de Grimm, George Spiel, Coultaus, A. Heuche, Victor Perard, 

G. E. Burr and August Bruno, from Original Designs, 

Sketches and Photographs 



harrisburg, pa. 

James M. Place, Publisher 

1890 







Copyrighted, 

JAMES M. PLACE, 

1889. 



INTRODUCTION 



A book on such a subject, written to give a plain statement 
of facts and do something for a good cause, could have no intro- 
duction better than this letter from one of the eminent divines 
of the age : 

57 West Forty-Sixth Street, 

New York, Nov. 4, 18S9. 
J. J. McLaurin, Esq., Harrisburg, Pa. 

My Dear Sir ; I see by Governor Beaver's letter to the publisher that you 
propose to write a book on the Johnstown Flood. It should be done at once, while 
the scenes and incidents of those dreadful days are fresh and unfaded in our 
minds. 

Let the story of the awful calamity be put into enduring type for future gene- 
rations. It ranks among the great calamities of the world and deserves a place in 
History. 

I know no one better qualified for the task than yourself. Having seen it with 
your own eyes, now let your graphic pen tell the story for unborn generations. I 
sincerely trust the volume may soon ccme from the press and a copy of it lie on 
my table. Sincerely yours, 

John R. Paxtox. 

If the volume merit the approval of the public, and be the 
means of relieving distress, the author will be doubly rewarded 
for a labor which necessarily involved many painful experiences. 
"The Story of Johnstown" goes, forth dedicated to every man, 
woman and child whose heart has felt for the sorrowing, whose 
mite has been given to alleviate distress, and to whom the claims 
of a stricken community can never appeal in vain. 



PUBLISHER'S PREFACE 



Any commercial interest that may ordinarily attach itself to 
a publication issued from our press does not belong to this vol- 
ume. The book was conceived in a spirit of profound sym- 
pathy for a certain class of the survivors of the Johnstown flood, 
old and young, for whose benefit the profits will be sacredly 
applied. Over their future life on earth stretches a shadow 
darker than the leaden clouds which, on that fateful day, swept 
their domestic circles with a storm of bitter grief, and over- 
whelmed their peaceful homes with disaster. 

To aid these sufferers any personal considerations must 
yield to the higher instincts of our humanity. 

"No radiant pearl which crested fortune wears, 
No gem that twinkling hangs in beauty's ears, 
Not the bright stars which night's blue arch adorn 
Nor rising sun that gilds the vernal morn 
Shines with such lustre as the tear that flows 
Down virtue's manly cheek for others' woes." 

This realistic and thrilling history is issued with confidence 
that the benevolent end sought will be fully attained through 
the generous response of the great English-speaking public. 

JAMES M. PLACE, 
Harrisburg, Pa. Publisher. 



FULL-PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS. 



S Page 

Frontispiece 

* Lake Conemaugh, With Views of the Dam 48 

■ Drifting to Death 60 

Wreck of the Day Express 72 

Wreckage Along Stony Creek 94 

Burning Debris at the Stone Bridge 106 

Ruins of St. John's Convent 132 

Scene Above the Railroad Bridge 147 

Site of the Hulbert House i"o 

Scenes in the Morgues and Prospect Graveyard 187 

Merchants and Doctors Who Perished 212 

Portraits of the Fenn Family 230 

Distributing Supplies at Relief Stations 248 

Wrecking Car Clearing Away Debris 260 

General Hastings and Military Headquarters 272 

Wreckage on Lincoln Street 298 

Portraits of the Flood Relief Commission 316 

Portraits of Twelve Ladies Who Lost Their Lives 340 

View of Johnstown After the Flood 364 



c 



ONTENTS. 



Page 

I. HOMES IN THE WILDERNESS 23 

Beyond the Allegheny Mountains a Century Ago — Picturesque Features- 
Nature's Lavish Beauties — Where Indians Roamed and Wild Beasts Lurked 
Early White Settlers— Ebensburg, Beulah, Loretto— Curious Advertise- 
ment to Attract Immigration — Struggles and Privations — Father Gallitzin's 
Grand Work — His Extraordinary Career— Historic Meeting — A New Name 
on the Map of Pennsylvania — First Beginnings of Cambria County. 

II. EARLY SETTLEMENT 3° 

General Campbell's Application — Original Survey of the Site of the Coming 
Metropolis — Fac-Simile of the Return to the Land Office — Transfers and 
Changes of Property — Duplicate of the First Patent — Arrival of Joseph 
Johns — Points in the Life of the Founder of the Town — Removal to the 
Country — His Death and Burial — Laid to Rest in a Secluded Nook — Abo- 
riginal Remains — Pioneers of Civilization — Hopes and Aspirations. 

III. RISE AND PROGRESS 35 

A Charter for the ' ' Town of Conemaugh " — Primitive Enterprises — Serious 
Floods — Peter Levergood's Liberal Policy — The Pennsylvania Canal and 
the Old Portage Railroad — Prominent Personages — Notable Landmarks — 
Adopting the Name of Johnstown — Churches and Schools — Modern Im- 
provements — Growth and Prosperity — From a Forest to a Community of 
Thirty Thousand Souls. 

IV. THE CAMBRIA IRON WORKS 41 

Establishment of a Great Industry — Details of Its Organization — The Prime 
Mover in the Project — Difficulties and Failures — Changes of Management — 
Success and Steady Enlargement — Wonderful Output of Steel Rails — The 
Gautier Wire Mill^An Immense Store— Endowing a Hospital and Library 
— Brief Sketch of a Powerful Corporation which Gave Johnstown World- 
wide Reputation as a Manufacturing Center. 

V. THE SOUTH-FORK DAM 49 

How an Artificial Lake was Created — A Feeder of the Pennsylvania Canal 
— Its Ruin and Restoration — The Fishing and Hunting Club— Charter and 
Subscribers — Their Wealth — A Beautiful Summer Resort — Imperfect Con- 
struction and Faulty Material — Millions of Tons of Water Burst the Barrier 
and Overwhelm the Conemaugh Valley — The Fatal Break on the Last Day 
of May — Statements of Eye-Witnesses — A Visit to the Spot. 



THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

Page 

VI. MARCH OF THE DESTROYER 61 

A Day of Funereal Gloom — Rush of Waters Down the Valley — John Baker's 
Heroic Ride — Ravages at South-Fork — First Victim of the Flood — Shafer's 
Fate — An Engineer's Escape — Railroaders Drowned — Sad Scenes Along the 
Route — The Viaduct Washed Away — Mineral Point Obliterated — The High 
Bridge Gone — A Perilous Journey — Terrible Loss of Life and Property at 
East Conemaugh — Franklin Borough Plunged into Mourning. 

VII. WRECK OF THE DAY EXPRESS 73 

A Thrilling Episode — The Fated Passenger Trains at East Conemaugh — 
Hours of Anxious Waiting — An Engineer's Shrill Warning — The Avalanche 
of Death — Hurrying to the Hills for Safety — Drowned and Carried Away 
by the Flood — Vestibuled Coaches Burned — Round-House Wiped Out — 
Locomotives Buried — How Two Fair Girls Perished — Statements of Awe- 
Struck Survivors — A Disaster Unparalleled in Railroad Annals. 

VIII. WOODVALE ANNIHILATED 83 

A Pretty Town Blotted Out of Existence — The Struggle for Life — Remark- 
able Rescue of a Family — A Frail Bridge and Its Solitary Occupant — One 
Taken and Two Saved — The Woolen Mill Partially Wrecked — Total De- 
struction of the Gautier Works — Three Hundred People Perish — Some of 
the Dead — An Aged Couple Go Down to Death Together — Happy Homes 
Desolated — Affecting Details — Not a House Left in the Borough Proper. 

IX. THREE THOUSAND PERSONS PERISH 95 

The Death-Dealing Wave Moving Onward — Its Accelerated Speed and Re- 
sistless Power — Peculiarities of the Advancing Mass — Mowing Down En- 
tire Streets and Drowning the Inmates of Hundreds of Houses — Devasta- 
tion in Conemaugh Borough, Johnstown, Kernville, Millville and Cambria 
— No Warning and No Time to Fly — Miles of Wreckage — Appalling Loss 
of Life and Property — The Saddest Desolation Human Eyes Ever Beheld. 

X. ACCUMULATED HORRORS 107 

The Dreadful Sights and Sounds of a Night of Unutterable Agony — Dying 
in the Rain and in the Darkness — Falling Buildings and Crashing Wreck- 
age — Conflagration at the Railroad Bridge— Dead Bodies and Living Beings 
Consumed — Calcined Bones and Roasted Flesh — Dramatic Episodes — A 
Gruesome Spectacle Near Nineveh — Heads, Arms and Legs Sticking Out 
of the Sand and Muck — Recitals that Surpass the Wildest Flights of Fiction. 

XL GLIMPSES OF THE HAVOC 119 

Awakening to the Full Reality and Extent of the Devastation — What the 
Dawn of a New Day Disclosed — Miles of Barren Waste and Heaping Wreck- 
age — Walking Over and Crawling Under Squares and Streets of Chaos — 
Cellars Packed with Dirt and Stones and Corpses — Landmarks Wiped Out 
— A Survey of the Fragments that Buried Acres of Johnstown, Conemaugh 
Borough and Kernville Fathoms Deep. 

XII. FATE OF PASTORS AND CHURCHES 133 

Abundant Provision in Spiritual Matters — Places of Worship and Ministers 
— Sanctuaries Wiped Off the Face of the Earth — Clergymen and their Fam- 
ilies Drowned — Fire and Flood Combine to Destroy a Sacred Edifice — Pe- 



CONTENTS. 

Page 
culiar Experience of the Sisters of Charity — A Rector and His Wife and 
Child Meet Death Locked in a Firm Embrace— Father Davin's Zealous 
Services and Lamented End — The Wonderful Image of the Virgin Mary. 

XIII. ADVENTURES AND ESCAPES 149 

No Scarcity of Mishaps and Wonderful Deliverances — All Night in Trees — 
Hurled Under the Stone Bridge — Six Days Pinned in the Debris — A Box- 
Car as an Ark of Safety — Landed on the Telegraph Wires — Praying in an 
Attic — Wedding Guests Wading — Floating Long Distances and Reaching 
Shore — People Alive whom Friends Supposed to be Lost — Wrested from 
the Very Jaws of the Destroyer — Tales of Survivors that Stagger Credibility. 

XIV. HEROISM IN VARIED FORMS 171 

Imitators of Jim Bludso and Banty Tim not Unknown — Numerous Gallant 
Rescues — A Negro Saves a Child — Families and Friends Taken off Float- 
ing Houses — He Stayed to Sound the Warning — Boy Heroes — Faithful 
Dogs — Tramps with Generous Souls — Men and Women Who Stuck to the . 
Post of Duty — Telegraphers Whose Services Deserve Unstinted Honor — 
Redeeming Traits Exemplified by a Host of Nature's True Nobility. 

XV. DISPOSAL OF THE DEAD 189 

Multitudes of Bodies to be Taken from the Debris and Interred — Improv- 
ised Morgues and Their Ghastly Tenants — Agonizing Spectacles — Rough 
Boxes for Unshrouded Corpses — Over the Hill to a Temporary Burial- 
Place — Hundreds Unidentified — Nineveh's Dismal Cargoes — Crazed by 
Grief — Final Removal to Grand View — Coroner's Inquests — Where Sorrow 
Held Undisputed Sway — The Most Mournful Duty of the Survivors. 

XVI. SOME OF THE VICTIMS 213 

The Frightful Roll of the Lost— A Garland for Those Who Have Gone Be- 
fore — Well-Known People Cut Off — How Professional Men, Merchants and 
Private Citizens Met an Untimely Fate — Communities Fearfully Decimated 
— Cambria's Long List — Whole Families Blotted Out — Familiar Figures 
Missing From Their Accustomed Haunts — Terrible Gaps in Society and 
Business That Can Never Again be Filled. 

XVII. SLAUGHTER OF THE INNOCENTS 231 

Lamentable Scarcity of Children After the Flood — Boys and Girls of Ten- 
der Years Drowned by Hundreds — Doom of the Fenn Family — Prattlers 
whose Voices are Hushed Forever — The Light and Joy of Many House- 
holds Extinguished by the Cruel Waters — Tiny Coffins — Buried with Her 
Doll — Little Folks who were Universal Favorites — The Saddest Feature of 
the Overwhelming Calamity — Why Loving Hearts Ached. 

XVIII. HELP FOR THE LIVING 249 

Many Hungry People the Day After the Flood — Children Crying for Bread 
— The Good Farmer Who Came with a Supply of Milk — Extortionate 
Dealers Brought to Their Senses in Short Metre — Somerset Sends the First 
Car of Provisions on Sunday Morning — Wagon-Loads of Food from Al- 
toona — Senator Quay's Welcome Draft — How Famine was Averted — A 
Troublesome Problem Solved Temporarily by Prompt Measures. 



CONTENTS. 



Page. 

XIX. ORDER OUT OF CHAOS 261 

The Lawless Element Rampant — Repressing Robbery and Riot — A Gang 
of Thieves — Organizing for the Protection of Life and Property — A Dicta- 
tor Appointed — Loafers and Prowlers Shut Out — Workmen Engaged to 
Clear Off the Wreckage — Pittsburgh Contractors at the Helm — A Horde of 
"Tin-Tag " Officers — Amateur Photographers Shoveling Dirt — The Initial 
Steps Towards Repairing the Ravages of the Deluge. 

XX. UNDER MILITARY AUTHORITY 273 

The Adjutant-General of Pennsylvania on the Ground — His Humble Meal 
and Tramp Protege — Consulting with the Sheriff and the Burgess — Troops 
Called Out — The Fourteenth Regiment Does Effective Service — Visit of 
Governor Beaver — Interesting Letters and Dispatches — The State As- 
sumes Entire Charge — The Board of Health Actively Engaged — Vigorous 
Work in Clearing the Wreckage and Restoring the Ruined District. 

XXI. MAGNIFICENT BENEVOLENCE 299 

The World's Response to the Appeal for Aid — Civilized Nations Hasten to 
Succor the Distressed — Cities, Towns and Individuals Pour in Contribu- 
tions — Many Notable Offerings — Associations, Societies and Churches 
Splendidly Represented — Generous Erin's Greeting — Food, Clothing and 
Shelter in Abundance — Noble Women Who Were Ministering Angels — A 
Stream of Charity Grand and Resistless as Niagara Itself. 

XXII. FLOOD RELIEF COMMISSION 317 

Prominent Gentlemen Selected to Distribute Millions of Dollars — Their 
High Character and Ability — How the Funds Were Handled for the Bene- 
fit of the Sufferers — A Board of Inquiry Established — Methods of Pro- 
cedure — Death of Judge Cummin — Five Thousand Claimants Assisted — 
Difficulties to be Surmounted — Efficient Service of the Secretary — Closing 
the Accounts — Record of an Enterprise Unrivalled in the Annals of Time. 

XXIII. EXPERIENCES AND OBSERVATIONS 331 

Recitals of Different Survivors, Who Tell of What They Underwent and 
Witnessed — Trying Situation of a Family on Market Street, of Whose 
Home Not a Vestige Remained — In Water Up to the Neck — Homes Car- 
ried Away and Neighbors Borne Down the Current — Ladies Whose Cour- 
age Did Not Falter in Time of Trial — What Two Citizens Saw in Their 
Travels Over the District — Statements of What Many People Endured. 

XXIV. PATHETIC SCENES AND INCIDENTS 341 

Heart-Breaking Separations From Loved Ones — A Brother's Agony — How 
a Wife and Daughter Were Lost — A Drowning Wife's LastJKiss— A Faith- 
ful Lover's Vigil — Affection that Death Could not Subdue — Relics of the 
Missing at Alma Hall — Weird Collection of Souvenirs of the Disaster — 
Terrible Grief of a Sorrowing Maiden — Fate of a Young Bride — An Aged 
Citizen's Sore Misfortunes — Distressing Occurrences of Many Kinds. 



XXV. SEEKING FOR LOVED ONES 

Anxious Friends in Quest of Near and Dear Relatives Whom Death Had 
Claimed — Weeks and Months of Patient Search for Bodies — Haunting the 
Heaps of Debris and the Morgues — A Devoted Sister and a Faithful 



347 



THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. , 

Page. 
Brother — Coming Great Distances on Mournful Errands — How Some 
Were Rewarded and Others Disappointed — A Feature of the Flood Which 
Developed Painful Surprises — Hopes and Fears of Earnest Watchers. 

XXVI. LIGHTS AND SHADOWS 355 

Hosts of Bogus Sufferers Making Capital Out of Calamity — Impostors and 
Pretenders Unmasked — Two Rascals Receive Their Just Desert — Exag- 
gerations Exploded — A Mean Specimen of Mankind — Three Sisters Cheat- 
ed — Silver Lining to the Cloud — Noble Conduct — Aftermath of the Deluge 
— Bits of Driftwood that Reflect Various Qualities of Character — A Va- 
riety of Odds and Ends Rescued from the Wreck for the Public Benefit. 

XXVII. WHAT OF THE FUTURE? 365 

The Destruction by the Flood Does Not Mean Perpetual Ruin— The First 
Signs of Renovation — Starting the Iron Works and Steel Mills — Invincible 
Determination of the Citizens — Men of Resolute Will Who Would Not De- 
sert the Old Home — Consolidating the Borough Into a City — An Electric 
Railway — Spreading Over the Hills — The New Johnstown Will Be Grand- 
er and Greater Than the One Blotted Out by the Deluge in 1889. 

APPENDIX — List of Identified Victims 373 




HOMES IN THE WILDERNESS. 



Beyond the Allegheny Mountains a Century Ago — Picturesque Features— Nature's 
Lavish Beauties — Where Indians Roamed and Wild Beasts Lurked — Early White 
Settlers — Ebenseurg, Beulah, Loretto — Curious Advertisement to Attract Im- 
migration — Struggles and Privations — Father Gallitzin's Grand Work — His 
Extraordinary Career — Historic Meeting — A New Name on the Map of Penn- 
sylvania — First Beginnings of Cambria County. 



" My soul fantastic measures trod 

O'er fairy fields ; or mourned along the gloom 
Of pathless woods ; -or down the craggy steep 
Hurl'd headlong, swam with pain the mantled pool, 
Or scaled the cliff."— Young. 




O BACK in imagination a century and picture 
the region immediately beyond the chief 
mountain-range of Pennsylvania. Surely 
the Spanish navigator's enraptured vision 
of the broad Pacific could not have sur- 
passed the charming prospect. Nature has 
scattered ideal beauties lavishly. Hills and 
dales, ravines and rivulets, frowning cliffs 
and wooded slopes dot the landscape thickly. 
Few whites have penetrated the dense wil- 
derness, the abode alone of wild beasts or 
still wilder Indians. Although the eastern 
part of the State has been settled for three 
generations, this romantic section continues almost unexplored. Without a 
disturbing fear of the Caucasian intruder, who is soon to drive him hence, the 
dusky brave in buckskin and moccasins roams at will. Wolves and panthers 



A PIONEER cabin. 



24 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

prowl unmolested, and strange birds twitter amid the branches of the trees. 
Bass and trout sport in a myriad streams, whose limpid waters foam and dash 
over rocky beds on their tireless march to the sea. Evergreens and flowers 
bloom in secluded loveliness, "wasting their sweetness on the desert air." 
Far as the eye can reach the primeval forest waves in majestic grandeur, ap- 
parently destined to abide forever. Such is the country awaiting, in the sum- 
mer of 1789, the precursors of civilization on the western side of the Alleghen- 
ies, which seemed the boundary of human hopes and fears and wishes in the 
vast heritage the prodigal caprice of an English sovereign had vested in a 
Quaker subject. 

Directly after the treaty of Fort Stanwix in 1768, which had so important 
a bearing upon the future of this Commonwealth, the heirs of William Penn 
quieted the titles to enormous blocks of land "between the Allegheny Mount- 
ains and the Forks of the Ohio. ' ' Much of this patrimony was in Cumberland 
county, from which in 1771 Bedford was set off, embracing an area divided 
subsequently into Westmoreland, Somerset, Indiana, Cambria, and portions of 
Blair and Huntingdon. Long prior to this period De Soto gazed upon the 
Mississippi and the French established themselves at Detroit. James Harrod 
and Daniel Boone had founded colonies in Kentucky, and Cincinnati boasted 
of a block-house. A struggling hamlet at Fort Duquesne was to grow into 
the city of Pittsburgh. Washington had journeyed to Fort Venango, more 
than a hundred miles up the Ohio — now the Allegheny — river in 1753. Rude 
trails led from Bedford to others that formed the sole means of communica- 
tion with Ohio and Michigan. Still the great West was practically as little 
known as the heart of Africa, save by adventurous Nimrods in pursuit of game, 
who cared nothing for the wonderful possibilities besetting their rough path- 
way. It was contrary to the genius of the age that a district teeming with 
natural resources should remain undeveloped. Westward the star of empire 
was already speeding, introducing a new order of affairs as it moved toward 
the Occident. For the brighter era about to be ushered in the Keystone State 
is quite prepared. The fiat goes forth, and the greasy Seneca and smoky On- 
ondaga give place to the intelligent, aggressive pale-face. The tomahawk 
yields to the axe of the sturdy farmer, the deer and the fox make way for the 
sheep and the horse. Fields of golden grain, the log cabin and the plough 
succeed the trackless wastes, the wigwam and the implements of the chase. 

Captain Michael McGuire, perhaps the first settler within the limits of 
Cambria county, located near the site of Loretto early in 1790. He was fol- 
lowed by Cornelius McGuire, Richard Nagle, William Dotson, Michael Rager, 
James Alcorn, John Storm and Richard Ashcraft. John Trux, John Douglass, 
John Byrne and William Meloy were later accessions. The infant settle- 
ment endured the privations and hardships incident to frontier life a hundred 
years ago. Wretched hovel's, roofed with bark and chinked with mud, afforded 



HOMES IN THE WILDERNESS. 25 

poor protection against the rigors of a northern winter. Clothing was insuffi- 
cient and food not to be obtained without incredible toil. Roads, mills, stores 
and markets were unknown. Savages lurked in the thickets, eager to strike a 
blow at the detested invaders. Fenimore Cooper's "noble Indian" was not 
the variety encountered by these immigrants. But they were of stalwart 
stock, full of pluck and energy, resolute and courageous, heroes without 
epaulettes, who boldly severed the ties that bound them to civilized life and 
undertook to make the untrodden wilds subservient to their interest and hap- 
piness. The high purpose and patient endurance of these leal-hearted men — 
advance-guards of the better epoch just dawning — received their appropriate 
reward. Many of them acquired a competence, lived to bring up their families 
comfortably, enjoyed the respect attaching to honorable age, and at length 
descended to the tomb as shocks of wheat fully ripe for the harvest. 

Mrs. Alcorn was carried off by the Indians, but Michael Rager reared 
twenty-seven lusty sons and daughters, and the McGuires populated a con- 
siderable portion of Allegheny township. John Storm built the first grist- 
mill, and a Welsh colony, headed by the Rev. Rees Lloyd, in 1796 settled the 
ridge seven miles west of the summit. The name of Cambria was applied to 
the new township as a reminder of the dear old home across the Atlantic. 
Mr. Lloyd surveyed a town, which he called Ebensburg in compliment to his 
son Eben. Dr. Benjamin Rush, the celebrated Philadelphia physician and 
patriot, it is interesting to note, sold the lands to the pilgrims from Wales. A 
number of Welshmen also selected farms on Blacklick Creek, a tributary of 
the Conemaugh, and located the village of Beulah, two miles west of Ebens- 
burg. An advertisement bearing the signature of Morgan J. Rhees, printed 
in a Carlisle paper in May, 1797, is a curious illustration of the inducements 
the "Cambrian Settlement" had to offer. An exact copy sheds light upon 
bygone methods of marketing real estate : 

"This settlement, although in its infant state, offers considerable encouragement to 
Emigrants, and others, who have an enterprising spirit, and are willing for a few years to 
undergo, and surmount difficulties in the acquirement of Independence. 

"Several families are now on the land, and many more have engaged to follow in the 
Spring, when a town named Beulah, one mile square, will be laid out ; 395 acres of which 
will be given and sold for the sole benefit of the first settlers, viz. : for public Buildings. 
Schools, a Library, the encouragement of Agriculture, and Manufacture, and 200 acres in the 
settlement for the dissemination of Religious knowledge. 

"Such institutions, it is presumed, must have a tendency to promote the welfare of the 
settlement, and be of public utility to the neighborhood in general — a neighborhood which 
the late John Craig Miller, Esq., did not hesitate to declare, would become in time, 'The 
Garden of Pennsylvania.' The situation is certainly healthy, fertile and pleasant. The 
surveyor, J. Harris, Esq., certifies ' that the spot on which the settlement is formed, consisting 
of 20,000 acres, is in quality good, and in general, sufficiently level for cultivation ; that most 
of the tracts (400 acres each) are altogether tillable, that the whole is proper for pasture and 
wheat, abounding in meadow, which may be watered by numerous streams. ' 



26 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

' ' Colonel Elliott asserts, ' that this land is peculiarly adapted to grass, and that it is fit 
for any kind of cultivation. ' 

"Patrick Cassiday, Esq., testifies, 'that at least one-fourth thereof will make meadow; 
that on an average it is level enough for farming ; that the hills are of the richest soil, and 
that it abounds with durable springs and runs, which are sufficiently large for water works.' 

"Many of the settlers, now on the spot, confirm the above testimonies. The great weight 
of timber is the principal objection. The trees, however, are of the best quality, and consist 
of the Sugar tree, Cherry, White Walnut, Hickory, Chestnut, Linn Beech, Poplar, Ash, Oak, 
Cuucmber, Birch, and Hemlock or Spruce. 

" The distance from navigable streams, according to P. Cassiday, is as follows : From the 
Frankstown branch of the Juniata 13 miles, from the west branch of the Susquehanna 13 
miles, from the Clearfield Creek 14 miles, from Chest Creek 8 miles, and lying on the Cone- 
maugh and Blacklick, which empty into the Allegheny river. 

"The imagination may figure to itself numerous advantages arising from such a situation, 
but there are real ones to be expected from this spot. It is on the Juniata road from Philadel- 
phia to Pittsburgh, about 230 miles from the former, and near 80 miles from the latter. This 
route to the westward is likely to become the most public on account of its being more level and 
equally near. It avoids the Sideling hill, the Tuscarora, the Shade and the North mountains. 
The portage from the Juniata to the Conemaugh is likewise the shortest between the Eastern 
and Western waters. This will of course cause it to be a natural deposit for stores, and it is 
not out of the scale of probability, but Beulah, being in the centre of a new settlement, will in 
time be a manufacturing town, a seat of justice, and a considerable mart for inland trade. 

' ' At present it is supposed that 500 families may be supplied by different proprietors with 
farms, within a moderate distance of the town. Those who are anxious to have situa- 
tions in its vicinity may be suited by applying to Morgan J. Rhees, on the land, or to W. 
Griffiths, No. 177 South Second street, Philadelphia, who will either sell or grant improvement 
leases. Terms of payment will be rendered easy to the purchasers, and every possible 
encouragement will be given to the industrious labourer and mechanic. Saw and grist mills will 
be immediately erected ; and in the course of next summer public buildings and the cutting of 
roads will employ a great number of hands, all of whom will have it in their power to become 
proprietors of part of that soil, which they clear and cultivate. 

" Every purchaser of a tract or patent of about 400 acres, is entitled to one acre, or four 
lots, 58 by 125 feet each, in the town. Professional men and mechanics, by building a house 
with a stone or brick chimney, and becoming residents before the first day of October, 1797, 
shall have the same privilege. No ground rent on the lots will be required from those who 
purchase in the settlement, or build in the town, previous to that period. 

"Five hundred Lots of the above dimensions are now for sale, at ten dollars per lot, 
payable in cash or valuable books. The books are to form a public library in the town, for 
the use of the settlers, and all the money arising from the sale, will be laid out for the purposes 
above mentioned. 

" Indisputable titles will be given by the subscriber, as soon as the number and situation 
of the lots are known, which shall be determined by lottery on or before the first day of 
October next." 

Beulah grew rapidly for a season, maintained a church, and had a weekly- 
newspaper — The Western Sky — the parent of Cambria journalism. Like 
Jonah's gourd, it sprang up in a night, as it were, and died young, dropping 
out of sight when Ebensburg was chosen as the fountain of justice. Not a 
house or street is left to denote the pristine glory of this Pennsylvania edition 
of Goldsmith's "Deserted Village" or Ossian's faded Balclutha. 



HOMES IN THE WILDERNESS. 



27 



To a priest of foreign lineage, the story of whose career sounds like a 
romance of the middle ages, Cambria owed much of its early importance. 
Clergymen figured prominently at the outset of its existence, three establishing 
towns years before the county was organized. The Welsh adhered to the faith 
of their ancestors, the German element was principally Amish in belief, and 
it was reserved for one zealous missionary to plant the Catholic religion on a 
firm basis. A remarkable man was 
the Rev. Demetrius Augustine Gal- 
litzin. The son of a Russian prince 
of the highest rank, who married 
the daughter of a Field-Marshal un- 
der Frederick the Great, from in- 
fancy he held a commission in the 
Russian army. Europe had been 
ravaged by incessant wars, the 
French revolution was about to con- 
vulse the continent, and his parents 
decided that the young Prince de 
Gallitzin should visit America to 
gratify his desire to travel. With 
the Rev. Mr. Brosius he landed at 
Baltimore in August, 1782. Atrain 
of peculiar circumstances directed 
his mind to ecclesiastical study. 
Renouncing his brilliant heirship, 
he placed himself in the charge of the venerable Bishop Carroll, completed a 
theological course, was ordained and labored a year or two in Maryland. 
Hearing of the settlements near the Alleghenies, he turned his course thither 
late in 1789. Selecting a commanding location, he instituted Loretto and 
gathered around him thousands of faithful adherents. For forty-two years he 
exercised pastoral functions, toiling unremittingly and spending a princely 
fortune to further the cause for which he had sacrificed home and ease and 
luxury. Churches, schools, a seminary, a college and a priestly order were 
literally created through his marvelous efforts. "A Defence of Catholic Prin- 
ciples" — the ablest of his published works — circulated largely in the United 
States and Europe. Disease prevented him from riding on horseback in his 
declining years. Instead of using this as an excuse for idleness, he had a sled 
constructed, in which he visited every corner of his boundless parish. Two 
horses, one ridden by a lad, drew this rustic conveyance, which held a bed on 
which the illustrious passenger sat or lay. Summer heats or wintry blasts did 
not deter the veteran herald of salvation from these fatiguing journeys, that he 
might administer the consolations of religion to the sick, the sorrowing or the 




Father Gallitzin. 



28 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

dying. A historic incident was the subject of a drawing, which is exceed- 
ingly rare. It depicts the meeting of Father Gallitzin and Father Henry 
Lemki, whom Bishop Kenrick, of Philadelphia, had sent to assist the revered 
priest in his unwearied labors. The event is best told in the language of Father 
Lemki, who labored assiduously in Cambria county for fifty-one years and died 
on November 29th, 1885 : 

' ' I rode across the country on horseback to Munster, where I stayed all night with Peter 
Collins. This was in the beginning of October, 1834. Next morning Mr. Collins sent his 
son Thomas, a mere stripling, to guide me through the woods to Loretto, where I expected 
to meet Father Gallitzin. We went along quite a piece, when the boy pointed his finger at 
something ahead and shouted, ' There he comes !' Then I saw two horses drawing a kind of 
sleigh, with an old man sitting on a bed. He had on the clerical garb, and I stopped my horse 
as we met and said : 

" 'You are Father Gallitzin, the priest of this parish ?' 

" ' By the grace of God, yes,' he answered. 

" 'Then, 'I continued, ' I have a letter from Bishop Kenrick appointing me to assist you. 
I am the Rev. Henry Lemki. ' 

" Father Gallitzin greeted me cordially, and asked whether I would go to Loretto or accom- 
pany him to celebrate mass at the house of a member of his congregation, four miles away. I 
turned and went with him. His conversation was most edifying, and we reached Loretto 
together in the evening." 

The engraving portrays the scene with striking fidelity. The patriarch in 
the sleigh wears the hat plaited for him by the good Sisters. His face expresses 
the benevolence his self-denying life exemplified, as old settlers love to recall 
it. Father Lemki' s attitude betokens earnestness and gratification. The 
tedious journey had ended, and he beheld the man who was to be his trusted 
associate and spiritual adviser. The boy with outstretched arm is Thomas 
Collins, of Bellefonte, the famous railway contractor and iron manufacturer, 
the embodiment of integrity, sagacity and push. The urchin on the lead horse 
is Hugh McConnell, of Munster, father-in-law of 'Squire Parrish, of Gallitzin, 
who survives at a goodly age to repeat his reminiscences of the first pastor of 
Loretto. The Collins dog had followed his young master and was viewed sus- 
piciously by the watchful canine guardian of Father Gallitzin. 

The devoted father died at Loretto on May 14th, 1840, aged seventy, 
passing away calmly and serenely. He who might have revelled in lordly 
halls was content to lodge thirty years in a humble cabin, practicing the most 
rigid economy to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and minister to the dis- 
tressed. His transformation from a gay prince to a devout ascetic might well 
compare with the conversion of Paul, the astonishing change in St. Augustine, 
or the miracle of grace which turned a drunken tinker into the immortal 
dreamer of "The Pilgrim's Progress." Blessings of widows and orphans 
showered upon him, nor will the pious example of Gallitzin cease to be 
cherished while virtue and humility are enshrined in the affections of the race. 
He slumbers in the churchyard of his loved Loretto, a unique stone monument 



HOMES IN THE WILDERNESS. 



2 9 



marking his grave, which the care of the Brotherhood keeps green. His 
vestments are preserved at Ebensburg as precious mementoes. 



"His life was gentle; and the elements 
So mix'd in him that Nature might stand up 
And say to all the world: This was a man ! " 



Along the Conemaugh Valley, deeply and sublimely grand in diversified 
scenery, small clearings began to appear. The untutored red men sought 
other retreats, and the closing years of the eighteenth century found the in- 




MEETING OF FATHER GALLITZIN AND FATHER LEMKI, IN 1834. 

habitants, who had just been annexed to the new county of Somerset, planning 
for a separate judicial organization. Their dream was fulfilled by the Act of 
March 26th, 1804, which detached 670 square miles from Huntingdon and 
Somerset for this purpose. The spirit of progress had borne fruit, and 
thenceforth on the map of Penn's wide domain was to be inscribed the name of 
Cambria County. 



J2 



II. 



EARLY SETTLEMENT. 



General Campbell's Application — Original Survey of the Site of the Coming 
Metropolis — Fac-Simile of the Return to the Land Office — Transfers and 
Changes of Property — Duplicate of the First Patent — Arrival of Joseph 
Johns — Points in the Life of the Founder of the Town — Removal to the 
Country — His Death and Burial — Laid to Rest in a Secluded Nook — Aboriginal 
Remains — Pioneers of Civilization — Hopes and Aspirations. 



*i 



"Joy gaily carols where was silence rude, 
And eager throngs invade the solitude." — Anonymous. 




PRIL 3rd, 1769, is a date never to be forgotten 
by residents of Cambria county. On that 
day General Charles Campbell, of Philadel- 
phia, filed an application in theLand Office, 
at Harrisburg, for a lot that was to become 
the birthplace of a prosperous community. 
The quaint old book recording the transac- 
tion spells the name "Campble, " and in- 
dexes the order as No. 1683. The tract lay 
at the junction of two streams, to which the 
names of Little Conemaugh River and Stony 
Creek had been given. United they formed 
the Big Conemaugh, though all three were 
once included in the comprehensive title 
of Kiskiminetas River, into which they 
emptied. Thomas Smith, deputy of Sur- 
veyor-General John Lukens, surveyed the Campbell and adjoining properties, 
returning the former to the Land Office in these words : 

A Draught of a Tract of Land called Conemaugh Old Town ; situate on the East side of 
30 



JOHNSTOWN FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



EARLY SETTLEMENT. 



31 





Conemaugh Creek, at the Mouth of Little Conemaugh : between the Allegheny and Laurel 
Hill : in Cumberland County : Containing Two Hundred and Forty-Nine acres, and the Usual 
Allowance of Six P Cent for Roads : Surveyed the 12th Day of May 1770 for Charles 
Carapble in pursuance of an Order No 1683, Dated April 3rd : 1769 

Now Bedford 
To John Lukens Esq : by Thomas Smith D S 

Surveyor General 

An exact fac-simile of this return, with the pencil draft of the plot accom- 
panying it, is in- r" - " 3.-;^»P"- 3 V"' 6j<W^^k 
serted herewith. W S<j #ifefev 
The paper is dis- &)f\ A ^ ^ v . © 
colored and fray- 
ed at the edges, 
while the writing 
is as legible as 
on the day it was 
penned by fin- 
gers long crum- 
bled into dust. 
Mr. Smith gain- 
ed distinction by 
compiling a val- 
uable legal man- 
ual. He was ele- 
vated to a judge- 
ship and wore 
the ermine cred- 
itably. The pat- 
ent for the tract 
was not granted 
until the Camp- 
bell land chang- 
ed hands repeat- 
edly. Who were 
the various pro- 
prietors is men- 
tioned in the doc- 
ument. It is re- 
corded in a mus- 

tV Old VOlume ORIGINAL SURVEY OF JOHNSTOWN, MADE IN 1770. 

in the Department of Internal Affairs. A literal transcript reads thus : 
The Supreme Executive Council of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. To all to 

whom these Presents shall come Greeting. 

Know ye That in Consideration of the sum of Forty-three Pounds Seventeen Shillings 



JIM 

JS7C 
... JKSSb 



Votz/tv; ALa/e/ msfco batt trjf bimitrjwqA, brruJc, affU^ 




v»UTU&fL: i'/t/i 

T. 

[onto* 



f/i^ej.fz /4c l 






4 ' ; 



7\ U^X 



yllaM IJJQ /r>J 'shoMij t amA-Ova *,ns //^a<uUuls>^££ / of an, (Jndt. 

Q^d,J /m J 3 1/6? 




32 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

lawful money paid by James McClenachan into the Receiver General's office of this Common- 
wealth there is granted by the said Commonwealth unto the said James McClenachan, a Cer- 
tain Tract of Land called " Conemaugh Old Town" situate on the East side of Conemaugh 
Creek at the mouth of Little Conemaugh between Allegany and Laurel Hills in Bedford 
county Beginning at an Hickory at Big Conemaugh Creek, thence by a Mountain foot north 
thirty-four degrees East twenty-eight Perches to an Ash Tree North seventy-one degrees East 
ninety Perches to a White oak north forty-four degrees East forty-four Perches to. a White oak 
North seventeen degrees East forty-two Perches to a White Oak and North forty-eight degrees 
West thirty perches to a Wild Cherry Tree on the bank of little Conemaugh Creek (at the 
upper end of a small Island) thence down the same by the several Courses thereof two hun- 
dred and four perches to a Locust Tree thence by a Mountain Foot North nineteen degrees 
West seventy-five Perches to a gum Tree North fourteen degrees East twenty-six Perches to an 
Hickory North five degrees East twenty-two Perches to a Beech Tree north twenty-two degrees 
West thirty Perches to an Hickory north four degrees West twenty-two Perches to a White 
Oak and north fifty-one degrees West twenty-six Perches to an Hickory Tree on the bank of 
Big Conemaugh aforesaid thence up the same by the several Courses thereof four hundred and 
seventy Perches to the Place of Beginning Containing Two hundred and forty-nine acres and 
allowance of six P. cent for Roads &c. with the appurtenances (Which said Tract was Surveyed 
in pursuance of an application No 1683 Entered the 3d April 1769, by Charles Campbell who 
by deed dated 1st February 1780, Conveyed the same to James Wilkins, who by deed dated 
31, October 1783, Conveyed the same to John Johnson who by deed dated 24 September 1782, 
Conveyed the same to the said James McClenachan in fee) To have and to hold the said Tract 
or Parcel of Land with the appurtenances unto the said James McClenachan and his Heirs, 
To of him the said James McClenachan his Heirs and Assigns forever free and clear of all 
Restrictions and Reservations as to Mines Royalties Quit Rents or otherwise Excepting in 
Reserving only the fifth part of all Gold and Silver ore for the use of this Commonwealth to 
be delivered at the Pits Mouth clear of all charges. 

In Witness whereof the Honorable Peter Muhlenberg Esqr. Vice President of the Supreme 
Executive Council hath hereto set his Hand and caused this State Seal to be hereto affixed in 
Council this twenty-sixth day of April in this year of our Lord One Thousand Seven hundred 
and eighty-eight, and of the Commonwealth the Twelfth. 

Attest Cha. Biddle Secy P. Muhlenberg [seal] 

Inrolled the 10th day of May 1788 

The peculiar use of capitals and the "plentiful lack" of punctuation marks 
will be noted by the reader. McClenachan sold to Joseph Yahns, or Johns, 
who is usually considered the first permanent settler in the vicinity. Born in 
Switzerland in 1750, he immigrated to America and worked in Lancaster 
county, Pa. Thence he went to Berlin, Somerset county, removing to the 
Campbell tract in 1791. He built a log dwelling on the flats near Stony Creek, 
a short distance from where the store and house of Alderman Caldwell now 
stand. There he lived with his wife and four children for about sixteen years, 
when he moved to a farm he had purchased in 1804 from John Stover, eight 
miles up the Stoystown turnpike and one mile east of Davidville. In 1 810 he 
died and was buried on the farm. The graveyard is a fitting resting-place for 
one who, "after life's fitful fever, sleeps well." A board fence encloses a plot 
thirty feet square, on the summit of a hill commanding a superb view. The 
sun's rays kiss it in the morning and shine upon it the livelong day. Birds 



EARLY SETTLEMENT. 



33 




GRAVES OF JOSEPH JOHNS AND WIFE. 



sing in the orchard that crowns the grassy slope. The dew and the rain water 
the soil, keeping the vegetation fresh and fragrant. In one corner slumbers 
the pioneer, his faithful wife by his side. Next her lies Joseph, the only son 
who survived his parents. The graves of Joseph's wife and of a grandson 
complete the row, leaving room for the Joseph Johns who occupies the prem- 
ises to-day. Other grandchildren 
are in the second row, with two un- 
known sleepers at their feet, laid 
away during Stover's ownership of 
the tract. It is a quiet, retired nook, 
suggesting Gray's "Elegy" to the 
reflecting mind. 

The German family Bible, printed 
at Germantown in 1776, has one 
page written by Mr. Johns in 1779. 
The characters are rather involved, 
and the penmanship is very small. The record gives the dates of the birth of 
his two sons, one of whom died in 1796, and three daughters. The descend- 
ants of one daughter live in Indiana county, those of another are in Canada, 
and the family of the third have clustered near the homestead. The original 
transfer of the Campbell property is recorded in Bedford county, from which 
Westmoreland was set off in 1773, Somerset in 1795, and Cambria in 1804. 
Tradition mentions several persons as actual residents of the neighborhood in 
1777. If so, their sojourn was probably cut short by the Indians, stories of 
whose cruelty are abundant, and to Joseph Johns unquestionably belongs the 
honor due to the The Founder of Johnstown. 

An application on April 7th, 1769, secured James Dougherty, of Phila- 
delphia, the next tract west, containing 152 acres. Joining Campbell's, it was 
surveyed at the same time by Deputy Smith, who sent in a plot with this 
official return : 

A Draught of a Tract of Land called the long Bottom on the West side of Conemaugh Creek 
about half a Mile below Conemaugh Old Town at the mouth of Little Conemaugh ; on the op- 
posite side of the River in Brothers Valley Township in the County of Bedford Containing One 
Hundred and Fifty Two Acres and the Usual Allowance of Six p Cent for Roads. Surveyed 
the 12th Day of May 1770 for James Dougherty in pursuance of an Order Dated April 7 1769 
To John Lukens Esqr by Thomas Smith D. S. 

Surveyor General 

The land, numbered Order 2909, ran down the Conemaugh very close to 
the present line of the Pennsylvania Railroad, comprising a good share of 
what is now Cambria Borough. No patent issued until August 8th, 1849, when 
the Rev. Williamina E. Smith, D. D., an.eminent Philadelphia divine, received 
the title on a warrant to accept. His name occurs frequently in connection 



34 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

with such transfers, indicating that the learned Doctor of Divinity was not 
averse to speculations in real estate by which he could turn an honest penny. 
Traces of an aboriginal village were to be seen in the tangled weeds and 
underbrush at the date of Johns' advent. Conrad Weiser, of Berks county, 
"Interpreter of the Province of Pennsylvania," was probably the first white 
man to set foot upon the rugged spot. Dispatched by the British with pres- 
ents to the savages on the Ohio River, his party came to the "Showonese 
Cabbins" on August 23rd, 1748. Stopping two days, they crossed what their 
leader spelled the " Kiskemineteos Creek," nowConemaugh River. Christian 
Frederick Post, a government messenger, landed at the Shawanese town of 
Kickenapawling — identical with Weiser' s "Cabbins" of the previous decade — 
on November nth, 1758. The correct appellation is supposed to have been 
Kick-ke-kne-pa-lin, from a renowned chief who took countless scalps and 
ranked high in the councils of the Six Nations. A famous warrior during the 
French Indian troubles in 1750-60, the collection of bark huts at the union of 
the two streams properly commemorated the doughty fighter. For some reason 
his followers abandoned the place, notwithstanding excellent fishing and hunt- 
ing rendered it especially suitable to their requirements. Probably this fact 
helped determine Joseph Johns to occupy the ground once tenanted by a 
race fast disappearing from the earth. Certain it is that he quickly conceived 
the idea of laying out a town, which he intended to become the county seat 
and a busy hive of industry. What glowing visions of its grand future may 
have flitted through the brain of the hardy pioneer, miles from the nearest 
house, encompassed by lofty hills and exposed to manifold perils ! Queen 
Zenobia's faith in her own Palmyra was less remarkable, so little is the 
world accustomed to seek the cot of an unpretending backwoodsman for a 
conspicuous example of far-seeing enterprise. 



SIGNATURE OF JOSEPH JOHNS. 



III. 



RISE AND PROGRESS. 



A Charter for the "Town of Conemaugh " — Primitive Enterprises — Serious Floods 
— Peter Levergood's Liberal Policy — The Pennsylvania Canal and the Old 
Portage Railroad — Prominent Personages — Notable Landmarks — Adopting the 
Name of Tohnstown — Churches and Schools — Modern' Improvements — -Growth 
and Prosperity — From a Forest to a Community of Thirty Thousand Souls. 



Gone is the cabin of Ihe pioneer, 
rile hum of industry salutes the ear, 
Thousands of happy homes are here. 



ITUATED at the head of naviga- 
tion to those going west, the 
flats near the confluence of 
Stony Creek and the Cone- 
maugh possessed manifold ad- 
vantages. Settlers crowded 
into the territory, which bore 
the favorite name of "The 
Conemaugh Country. ' ' Peter 
Goughenor, Ludwig Wissinger 
and JohnFrancis were the earli- 
est arrivals. Mr. Cover locat- 
ed on the plateau east of the 
level grounds where a manu- 
facturing center was to thrive. 
If the soil was not adapted to 
agriculture, minerals abounded 
in the surrounding hills. The 
outlook seemed so promising 
that, on November 3, 1800, 
Mr. Johns filed the charter of 
"the town of Conemaugh." The paper was drawn in proper form, witnessed 
by Abraham Morrison, an attorney, who lived until 1865, and duly recorded 

35 




Peter Levergood. ffl 



36 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

in Somerset. The limits of the town extended from the Point eastward to 
Franklin street. Ten streets, six alleys, one market square and one hundred 
and forty-one lots were laid out. One acre was conveyed for a burying 
ground. A square on Main street, consisting of lots 49, 50, 51 and 52, was set 
aside "for a County Court House and other public buildings." The charter 
then recites this important proviso : 

" All that piece of ground, called the Point, laying between the said town and the junction 
of the two rivers or creeks aforesaid, shall be reserved for commons and public amusements 
for the use of the said town and its future inhabitants forever. " 

Thus was the bark launched and an eager anticipation realized in part. 
Slowly the town advanced. About 1806 a small forge was erected, the adja- 
cent hills supplying the coal and ore to manufacture iron. Horses and mules 
transported the product to Pittsburgh prior to the introduction of rafts and 
flat-boats. His failure to secure the court-house severely disappointed Johns. 
He sold out his entire claim, exclusive of lots designed for schools and 
churches, to Hartley & Anderson, of Bedford, and moved away in 1807. The 
new owners effected some improvements and sold to William Holliday, 
founder of Hollidaysburg, who filled a large space in pioneer affairs. Holli- 
day, in 181 1, sold to Peter Levergood, a native of York county, who first came 
to Cambria in 1800. Selling out, he returned to his native place for seven 
years. The property reverting to him, owing to the inability of the pur- 
chasers to meet the payments, he removed once more to Conemaugh, where 
he spent the rest of his active life. The lot-holders were annually assessed 
one dollar each for ground-rent, which was remitted by Mr. Levergood. He 
displayed intense energy in forwarding the common welfare. To encourage 
building he would sell lots at a nominal price, upon condition that they be 
fenced at once and occupied by a specified time. Dying in 1861, at a patri- 
archal age, he had lived to behold the town of his adoption progressive 
and influential. His remains were interred in the private burying-ground 
beside his home, on Stony Creek street, back of the electric-light plant. The 
stone that marked his grave was thrown down by the dreadful flood that over- 
whelmed the Conemaugh Valley this year. 

Jacob Levergood pursued the policy inaugurated by his father. He died 
a few years since, leaving a widow and several children, some of whom reside 
in the place their ancestors did so much to further. Mrs. Levergood, who at- 
tained the goodly age of 78 years, retained much of her personal attractive- 
ness to the last. On the day of the Johnstown flood she was sitting in her 
daughter's home, near Stony Creek, with Mrs. Buck, an elderly lady, and 
some other members of the household. An alarm was heard and Mrs. Lever- 
good asked a young lady to ascertain its cause, saying, "I wonder what is the 
matter." The latter left the apartment. Next moment the house was hoisted 
from its foundation, floated across Stony Creek and crushed to fragments. 



RISE AND PROGRESS. 



37 




JACOB LEVERGOOD. 



Mrs. Buck was found alive in a tree on Saturday. The following week, seated 

in her rocking-chair, her features 
but slightly altered, Mrs. Lever- 
good was discovered in Sandyvale 
cemetery, whither heaps of rubbish 
had been washed. The finding of 
the body in such a natural position 
and in such a spot invested Mrs. 
Levergood's death with melancholy 
interest. Happily, Mrs. Caldwell, 
another daughter, possessed a pho- 
tograph of her mother, taken many 
years since. 

Local annals tell how, in 1808 
and 1816, the villagers fled to the 
hills for safety from inundations 
which covered the low grounds. 
"Coming events cast their shad- 
ows before," and these may have 
been regarded as premonitions of 
the ultimate doom of the settle- 
ment. • A grist-mill was erected in 181 2, "greatly to the satisfaction and con- 
venience of the public." Isaac Proctor, an early merchant, built the first 
keel-boat in 1816, on the banks of 
Stony Creek. The craft was to con- 
vey freight and passengers, when- 
ever the stage of water was favor- 
able, from Conemaugh to Pitts- 
burgh. Mrs. Roberts, the daughter 
of Mr. Proctor and the oldest 
native resident at the time of her 
decease, was drowned in the flood 
of 1889. Iron forges were started, 
giving employment to many men. 
By the Frankstown road, which 
opened communication with the 
east, pig metal was hauled over the 
mountains for these forges. A turn- 
pike from Pittsburgh to Hunting- 
don was finished in 1820, despite 
the opposition of people who be- 
lieved it an impossibility. Dr. Dio- 




MRS. LEVERGOOD. 



38 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN: 

nysius Lardner thought he demonstrated that steamships could not cross 
the Atlantic ; still they accomplished the trip, and the case of the thoroughfare 
over the Alleghenies was similar. Commissioners were appointed in 1824 to 
explore a route for a canal from Harrisburg to Pittsburgh, by way of the Juniata 
and Conemaugh. Internal improvement received an unprecedented impetus 
at that period and in 1828 work began in earnest on the Pennsylvania Canal 
and the Allegheny Portage Railroad. Sylvester Welch, who put up the first 
foundry in Conemaugh about 1830, surveyed the line 'of the Portage Railroad, 
thirty-six miles in length, with Hollidaysburg as its eastern terminus. A series 
of ten inclined planes, up which stationary engines drew the cars, surmounted 
the difficult grade and the road was ready for trains in the fall of 1833. The 
Western Division of the Pennsylvania Canal had been pushed expeditiously, 
and the first boat arrived at Conemaugh in 1830. William Cover, who remem- 
bers the event distinctly, gives a graphic account of the celebration in honor 
of the occasion. Cambria county had then seven thousand inhabitants, most 
of whom assembled to greet the vessel. Various obstacles delayed its coming 
for twenty-four hours past the scheduled time. The interval was spent in bois- 
terous hilarity, taxing the resources of the landlords severely to meet the 
demand for stimulants. Captain Robert Pickworth commanded the boat, and 
the jubilee marked an important era in the history of the embryo metropolis. 
The town, incorporated in 1831 as Conemaugh, had a population of 700. An 
act of the legislature, approved April 14, 1834, changed it to Johnstown, a 
name destined to be inseparably associated with a calamity unparalleled in 
the civilized worlfl. 

The canal and railroad gave Johnstown a health}' advance. Lying just 
where it was necessary to connect these arteries of traffic, a basin, depot, ware- 
houses and the paraphernalia belonging to the terminus had to be provided. All 
this meant increased trade and population, and by 1840 the hamlet had a 
round thousand souls. That year Hull Smith opened a State Bank on Main 
street, near the site of the Merchants' Hotel. The basin occupied several 
acres on Centre, Portage and Railroad streets, the canal itself running through 
by the Pennsylvania Railroad station. Prominent transportation agents were 
Judge Evan Roberts, a grocer, representing D. Leech & Co. ; Samuel Bracken, 
of the O' Conner Line; John Johnson, of the Independent; John Royer, of the 
Pennsylvania & Ohio; Robert and S. D. Canan, of Miller's Line; Henry 
Kratzer, of the Union, and others engaged in carrying merchandise — princi- 
pally metal — from Johnstown to Pittsburgh. Of that galaxy of genial spirits S. 
D. Canan is the sole survivor. General James Potts took charge of the collect- 
or's office of the canal and railroad on January 12th, 1839. He journeyed from 
Harrisburg by way of Carlisle, Chambersburg, Bedford, Somerset and Stoys- 
town. His first lodging-place in Johnstown was the Renshaw House, corner 
of Locust and Clinton streets. Robert Linton conducted a tavern on Main 



RISE AND PROGRESS. 39 

street long before the canal was projected. Another stood on the corner of 
Main and Franklin streets. George W. Kern, postmaster in 1841, had the 
office in his drug-store on Clinton street. The Johnstown Democrat, the 
first newspaper, was ushered into existence in 1834. From Ebensburg the 
Sky was remoyed in 1836. The Cambria Gazette made its bow in 1841 
and died young, as did the News, the Mountain Echo and the Transcript. 
More recent ventures were the Johnstown Tribune, a vigorous afternoon daily; 
the Democrat, a morning sheet ; the Freie Presse, the organ of the Germans, and 
the Herald. The great flood stopped the Tribune a couple of weeks and the 
Democrat a month, while the Herald has not been resuscitated. C. T. Schu- 
bert, editor of the Freie Presse, lost his life. With his family, except two boys 
who were in Conemaugh borough, he sought refuge on the house-top. The 
building drifted to the South Side and back, anchoring with such violence that 
Mr. Schubert was tossed from the roof. Falling into the water, he was seen 
no more alive. The other members of the family were rescued, and his body 
was recovered a day or two afterwards. 

Until 1828 the different branches of Christians worshiped together. The 
Presbyterians built a frame church in 1835, on the site of the brick edifice 
which now accommodates the congregation. Peter Levergood deeded the 
Methodists a lot for six cents, the site of the present United Brethren church, 
on which they built a modest chapel, upwards of fifty years since. Their 
magnificent stone church on Franklin street is of a date comparatively recent. 
The Lutherans did not lag in the rear, the Catholics erected two spacious 
churches and a convent, and ultimately most of the leading denominations 
had comfortable edifices. A one-story frame on the corner of Market and 
Chestnut streets served as the first school, succeeded in due course by sub- 
stantial bricks in different wards. Indeed, Johnstown ranked much above 
the average in the number and character of its churches and schools. Modern 
improvements came gradually. Sidewalks, street railways, an efficient fire- 
department, water-works, gas and electric light were supplied, the town keep- 
ing step in the onward march as the months and years rolled by. 

The cluster of towns of which Johnstown was the artery expanded at a 
corresponding rate, enlarging their borders each season. Conemaugh Bor- 
ough, incorporated in 1849, contained in the palmy days of the canal many of 
the shipping warehouses and offices, and was divided into two wards. It lies 
east of Johnstown proper and is thickly settled some distance up Green Hill. 
Prospect, on the high hill north, has hundreds of workmen's dwellings and a 
spacious school-building. Millville was incorporated in 1858. In it are the 
rolling-mills, foundries, machine shops, blast furnaces and other appurten- 
ances of the Cambria Iron Company, which built and owns the greater part of 
the town. Cambria, on the western bank of the Conemaugh, was laid out in 
1853 and incorporated in 1862. The company's employes constitute the 



40 



THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 



bulk of the residents, and the borough had its quota of churches, schools, 
stores and improvements. Kernville, on the south shore of Stony Creek, is 
a populous suburb. Woodvale, the farthest east, was laid out in 1864 by the 
Johnstown Manufacturing company, and had three hundred snug houses. 
Chemical works, a woolen factory, a tannery and a flouring-mill, were its prom- 
inent industries. Nestling amid the hills, these towns formed a community of 
30,000 people, distinguished for thrift and industry. They enjoyed the com- 
forts of life in generous measure and looked forward to the future with cheer- 
ful confidence. This was Johnstown on the fateful morning of the last day of 
May, 1889. 



Mf 










*k.P w 



IV. 



THE CAMBRIA IRON WORKS. 



Establishment of a Great Industry — Details of Its Organization — The Prime Mover 
in the Project — Difficulties and Failures — Changes of Management — Success 
and Steady Enlargement- — Wonderful Output of Steel Rails — The Gautier 
Wire Mill — An Immense Store — Endowing a Hospital and Library — Brief Sketch 
of a Powerful Corporation which Gave Johnstown World-wide Reputation as a 
Manufacturing Center. 



Week in, week out, by day or night, 

You can see the furnace glow ; 
You can hear the whir of the iron rolls, 

With measured tone and slow. — Adapted. 




HE REAL progress of Johnstown dates from 
the building of the Cambria Iron Works in 
1853. The Pennsylvania Railroad had super- 
seded the primitive canal and the inclined planes, 
affording rapid transportation, and the iron man- 
ufacturers foresaw a great future for that indus- 
try. Coal, ore and limestone were plentiful. 
Bernizer & Burrell started a small forge across 
Stony Creek early in this century. The working 
of ores began in i8og. Four old-fashioned char- 
coal furnaces, with thousands of acres of min- 
eral lands, formed the basis upon which the Cam- 
bria Iron Company was chartered in 1852. Geo. 
S. King, an energetic merchant, who resided in 
=r <3eg^ Johnstown from 1S34 to 1868, was the prime 

a cambria furnace. mover in organizing the corporation. His exer- 

tions were seconded by parties interested in large tracts of coal and mineral 
lands. The projectors did not contribute much of the cash capital, which was 

41 



4 2 



THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 



fixed at one million of dollars. Mr. King, whose home is at Lewistown, Ful- 
ton county, 111., describes minutely the steps which resulted in the iron works 
that made the name of Johnstown "familiar as household words " in both 
hemispheres : 

" Owing to the depressed condition of all business from the compromise tariff of 1833, a 
great many of the people were out of employment, as well as myself. I concluded that a means 
might be found to somewhat change this condition through the iron-ore deposits in the hills 
around Johnstown. After a search of several months I found, in 1839 or 1840, a deposit of 
ore, and thought it sufficient to justify the erection of a furnace to work it. For the reason 
that there was little or no money in circulation, my idea was to take the iron out of the ore and 
trade it for merchandise with which to pay the workingmen and enable them to live. 

' ' In the first undertaking I associated with me Mr. David Stewart and Messrs. John K. and 
Wm. L. Shryock. We gave the name ' Cambria ' to our furnace, which was on Laurel Run, 

three miles from Johnstown. This being 
before the day of stone coal for furnace 
use, we used charcoal for fuel. Our first 
iron was made in 1841. About the latter 
part of 1843 Dr. Peter Shoenberger ; of 
Pittsburgh, purchased the interest of David 
Stewart, and in 1844 Dr. Shoenberger and 
myself purchased the interest of John K. 
and Wm. L. Shryock, thereby becoming 
equal owners of Cambria Furnace. We 
sold our pig iron at Pittsburgh. 

"From the tariff of 1842 better times 
resulted, which justified operators in going 
into new enterprises and increasing their 
business. Dr. Shoenberger and I built two 
more furnaces, Mill Creek and Ben's Creek 
furnaces, about three miles from Johns- 
town, in an opposite direction from Cam- 
bria Furnace. In these enterprises John 
Bell was associated with us, remaining so 
for one or two years, when Dr. Shoenber- 
ger and I purchased his interest. 

'.'The tariff of 1846 depressed business, 
checking enterprise and breaking up much of the iron manufacturing then done in this coun- 
try. David Stewart, who was formerly associated with me, had built Blacklick Furnace, about 
eight miles northwest from Johnstown, in Indiana county. Because of the reductions in duties 
Mr. Stewart, like many others, became dissatisfied with the result of his enterprise, and we pur- 
chased it. 

"We then had four furnaces, which we kept alive and in operation during depressed times 
for some years, with little or no profit. In this situation it became a question as to what move 
we could make in order to perpetuate the business. Dr. Shoenberger advocated the erection of 
a large foundry, to put our iron in the shape of castings, such as large sugar-kettles for the New 
Orleans market, these and other castings then seeming most in demand. I advocated the erec- 
tion of a rolling-mill to manufacture railroad iron. Our iron was not adapted for bar-iron 
purposes, and in my opinion was not good for castings, as it was too hard, though in a wrought 
form I was satisfied that it was good for railroad iron, if properly worked and the result of a 




GEORGE S. KING. 



THE CAMBRIA IRON WORKS. 43 

trial demonstrated that I was right in this opinion. Finally we agreed to an effort in the direc- 
tion of organizing a company to erect a rolling-mill for the manufacture of railroad iron. 

"I think it was in February, 1852, when I left Johnstown to go east to get parties to 
become interested in the new enterprise. I went first to New .York city, and being un- 
acquainted there, I was placed at a disadvantage. Finding little encouragement in New York, 
I concluded to go to Boston. My first efforts in Boston were not flattering. I was taken by a 
party to the office of an alleged large and wealthy 'iron company,' and found the office grandly 
fitted up and well equipped with advertising material, pamphlets, circulars, etc., one of which 
was handed to me. It set forth that this 'iron company' represented a capital of $500,000, 
and their works were said to be located near Hollidaysburg, Blair county, Pa., where they 
owned 200 acres of land and a furnace under construction. I was aware before this that an 
attempt had been made to build a furnace, as mentioned in the pamphlet, and knew all about 
the matter so well that I got out of that office as soon as possible. I said nothing to them 
about my matter, nor did I tell them what I knew about theirs. 

"I next met Daniel Wilde, to whom I talked about the object I had in view. He called 
on me at the hotel, and proposed that we go and see'Mr. John Hartshorn, a broker. We went 
to his office, I taking with me a schedule of the property Dr. Shoenberger and I intended to 
put into the business. We saw Mr. Hartshorn and acquainted him with the matter fully. 
Our proposition was that Dr. Shoenberger and I should put in our four furnaces, with tools, 
teams, all the firm's property, except goods in stores and metal on hand, and twenty-five thous- 
and acres of land, all valued at $300,000, of which we would retain in stock shares to the 
amount of $100,000, the rest to be paid to us by the company. Mr. Hartshorn and Wilde 
agreed to get up the company within six months' time from date. I then wrote to Dr. Shoen- 
berger to come on to Boston, and on his reaching there he and I signed the articles of agree- 
ment as above stated. 

' ' Upon me was placed the duty of procuring the charter, and to effect this as soon as pos- 
sible I went to Harrisburg. In our prior conversations no mention was made of the name of 
the company to be organized and the works to be built. Of my own choice, and without con- 
sulting with Dr. Shoenberger or others, I gave the names ' Cambria Iron Company ' and 
'Cambria Iron Works.' Our capital was placed at $1,000,000, and the works were to be 
located at Johnstown, Cambria county, Pennsylvania. 

"When procuring the charter I found a general law existing that limited the quantity of 
land to be held by such an organization in one county. ' Our land not lying in accordance with 
this provision, I went to the Legislature, then in session, and procured the enactment of an 
additional section to the original law, permitting the holding of lands in more than one county 
without limit as to quantity. This accomplished and the charter secured, I went to Philadel- 
phia and succeeded in procuring subscriptions of about $30,000 in stock on the part of some 
merchants with whom I had had business relations. 

"At the expiration of six months our Boston parties had not succeeded as expected, and 
were granted a limit of six months longer time to effect their purposes. They transferred their 
efforts to New York city, and called on Simeon Draper, whom I had tried to enlist in the 
matter before I went to Boston. Mr. Draper became a subscriber to the stock, and vouched 
for some other subscribers, in all to the amount of $300,000. We then held a meeting to 
organize the company, resulting as follows : Dr. Peter Shoenberger, President ; Simeon 
Draper, Treasurer ; Geo. W. Hodges, Secretary ; and G. S. King, General Manager. About 
this time a change was made in the amount of stock shares to be retained by Dr. Shoenberger 
and myself, we taking $200,000 instead of $100,600 as first agreed on, leaving $100,000 to be 
paid to us in money by the company. 

"I had before this time conditionally contracted with parties in Johnstown for land which 
I thought most convenient and best adapted for locating the works. The company now being 



44 



THE STOR Y OF JO HNS TO WN 



organized, I immediately secured it and began to erect the rolling-mill, four hot-blast coke 
furnaces, and other buildings, also grading for a coke yard, etc. This was in February, 1853, 
just one year after I went to New York and Boston to get up the company." 

Difficulties beset the company to a degree that led to its suspension in 
1854. Philadelphia creditors appointed a committee to visit Johnstown and 

investigate. The chairman was Daniel J. 
Morrell, a young merchant, who urged the 
investment of sufficient funds to resume op- 
erations. Acting upon his advice, the mon- 
ey was contributed and Matthew Newkirk 
elected president of the company. Another 
failure was the result in 1855. Mr. Morrell 
retained his faith in the final success of 
the enterprise and formed a new company. 
Charles S. Wood, Richard D. Wood, Ed- 
ward Y. Townsend, George Trotter, Mat- 
thew Newkirk and others joined with him 
in the firm of Wood, Morrell & Co., and 
leased the works for seven years. The con- 
cern was to be managed by Mr. Morrell, 
who relinquished his business in Philadel- 
phia and brought his family to Johnstown. 
From that hour success was assured. For 
twenty-nine years Mr. Morrell' s vigilant 
management was continued, ending because 
of failing health in 1884. He was foremost in every good work, giving liber- 
ally to help the poor and to promote worthy objects. Elected to Congress 
in 1866, he served his constituents with signal ability. On March 6th, 1879, 
he was elected president of the 
American Iron and Steel Asso- 
ciation, filling the position six 
years. His death in August, 
1885, removed from Johnstown 
a man who had done more than 
any other to foster its manufac- 
turing interests and utilize its 
material wealth. Mrs. Morrell 
survived her husband about two 
years. Both sleep in the Grand View cemetery, beneath an imposing monu- 
ment. Their fine mansion on Main street is now the Morrell Institute. 

Under the new administration matters took a different turn, despite the 
financial depression of the ensuing two years and the burning of the rolling-mili 




HON. DANIEL J. MORRELL. 




THE MORRELL MANSION AFTER THE FLOOD. 



THE CAMBRIA IRON WORKS. 



45 



in June, 1857. A single week sufficed to start the rolls and furnaces again, so 
great was the vigor displayed. The war broadened the field, infusing fresh 
life into every branch' of manufacturing. When the lease expired in 1862 the 
firm re-organized as the "Cambria Iron Company. " What is known as the 
Bessemer process caused a tremendous awakening in the steel industry. 
The Cambria company commenced the erection of Bessemer works in 1869, 
and sold its first output of steel rails in July, 1871, at $104 a ton. These were 
the sixth works of this description in the United States, and they have attained 
colossal proportions, increasing from a capacity of 150 tons of iron rails per 
week to a daily yield of 1,000 tons 
of steel ingots. Grades of steel of 
all kinds are turned out, from the 
softest wire stock to the hardest 
spring. The appliances are the 
best that human ingenuity and mil- 
lions of capital can devise. The 
company operates thirty-five miles 
of railroad tracks about its works, 
coal mines and coke ovens, and 
owns 1,500 cars. Upwards of 7,000 
men were on the pay-rolls last May, 
when the memorable flood deso- 
lated the Conemaugh Valley. In 
1877 a partnership was formed with 
Dr. J. H. Gautier, of Jersey City, 
as "The Gautier Steel Company, 
Limited," to manufacture at Johns- 
town wire and sundry steel pro- john fulton. 
ducts. Enormous works were constructed a mile up the Little Conemaugh, 
consisting of a brick building, 500x200' feet, for annealing ; a brick warehouse, 
373 x 43 f eet 5 "a barb-wire mill, 256x50 feet ; merchant mill, 725x250 feet ; shops 
and offices. The Gautier mill manufactured wire, shafting, springs, plough 
shares, rake and harrow teeth and implement steel, aggregating 50,000 tons 
yearly. Natural gas was brought from Grapeville, forty miles west, in 1886, 
adding greatly to the efficiency and completeness of both the huge plants. 
The principal works are located upon a river plat at the base of Prospect Hill, 
extending along the Conemaugh River and covering enough ground to make 
a respectable farm. 

The company has built eight hundred tenement houses, many of them on 
Prospect Hill, to rent to employes at reasonable rates. A big store, four 
stories high, was built on Washington street, the site of Welch's foundry, and 
stocked with an amazing variety of merchandise. West of it another fine 




J3 



46 



THE STOR Y OF JOHNSTO 1 1 .V. 




THE CAMBRIA IRON COMPANY^ STORE AND OFFICES IN JUNE, 1889. 

brick building was put up for office purposes, furnishing quarters for the 
regiment of clerks, book-keepers and heads of departments. Opposite stood 
the Cambria Library, a gift to the citizens in 1881. ft was fitted up elegantly, 
had commodious reading-rooms, and eight thousand volumes of standard books. 
In it a system of education was begun in the winter of 188 1-2 for the benefit 
of the workmen. Competent instructors taught free classes mechanical and 
free-hand drawing, mining, mathematics, chemistry, geology and political 
economy. A hospital was erected on Prospect Hill in 1886, and this powerful 
corporation has shown by repeated deeds of liberality its wish to promote the 
general welfare. Mr. John Fulton is the General Manager, and it is proper 
to remark that some of the most valuable patents held by the company are 
the inventions of its own skilled employes. William Kelly, as far back as 
1857, made at the Cambria Iron Works the initial experiment in the manu- 
facture of pneumatic steel, anticipating Bessemer a number of years. George 
Fritz planned the three-high rolling mill, which revolutionized steel-making, 
enabling railroads to perfect their tracks, to increase the speed of trains, to 
treble the weight of their engines and to lay their lines to the remotest sections. 




Lake Conemaugh, with Views from Above and Below the Fatal Dam. 



THE SOUTH-FORK DAM. 



How an Artificial Lake was Created — A Feeder of the Pennsylvania Canal — Its Ruin 
and Restoration — The Fishing and Hunting Club — Charter and Subscribers — 
Their Wealth —A Beautiful Summer Resort — Imperfect Construction and Faulty 
Material — Millions of Tons of Water Burst the Barrier and Overwhelm the 
Conemaugh Valley — The Fatal Break on the Last Day of May — Statements of 
Eye- Witnesses — A Visit to the Spot. 



• Still overhead 



The angry tempest wears its gloom, and still 
The deluge deepens ; the embankment yields, 
Lies sunk and flattened 'neath the sordid wave, 
In one wild moment ruined." — Adapted. 




' OMETIMES the supply of water for the canal ran short, 
the Conemaugh and Stony Creek failing to meet the 
demand in dry seasons. Dams had been thrown 
across the streams at the outset, one at the eastern 
end of Johnstown and the other two miles up the 
creek. Yet business suffered more or less every 
year from the delays scarcity of water rendered un- 
avoidable. Finally it was resolved to remedy the 
defect by constructing a reservoir on a mountain 
branch of the Conemaugh to hold a vast quantity of 
water in reserve. Engineers chose a ravine on the 
South Fork, two miles south of its junction with the 
river and ten east of Johnstown, as the proper place. 
The Legislature, on February 18th, 1836, appro- 
priated thirty thousand dollars towards the project. John Hilderbrand and 
David Hoover, of Johnstown, took the job of clearing the ground, which was 

49 



THE FATAL RESERVOIR. 



5<D THE STOR V OF JOHNS TO WN. 

heavily timbered. Gen. J. K. Moorhead, of Pittsburgh, and Judge H. B. 
Packer, of Williamsport, brother of Governor Packer, were awarded the con- 
tract to build the dam, and commenced work in 1838. Additional appropria- 
tions were required to finish the embankment, which stretched across a deep 
gorge three hundred feet above the level of Johnstown and was not fully com- 
pleted until 1853. Certainly it was no trifling achievement, costing as it did 
several hundred thousand dollars and creating the largest artificial lake on the 
continent. From a thickness of two hundred and eighty feet at the base the 
breastwork tapered to twenty feet at the crown, ninety feet high and one 
thousand in length. The inner face of the dam was puddled with clay and 
rip-rapped with stone. Five waste-gates in giant pipes, laid under culverts of 
solid masonry, could be regulated from a tower to shut in or empty the water 
at will. Covering six hundred acres, the reservoir was calculated to hold five 
hundred million cubic feet of water. This would fill a canal nearly six hun- 
dred miles long, thirty feet wide and five feet deep ; or a row of barrels to 
girdle the earth. Subsequent events give these figures special interest. 

The Pennsylvania Railroad Company, chartered in 1846, purchased the 
canal and the Portage from the State in 1857. Having no use for the reser- 
voir, the machinery to operate the waste-gates stood idle, the tower burned, 
the water seeped into the culverts and the dam broke in 1862, flooding the 
valley. Luckily the water had been escaping so freely that the lake was very 
low and the damage slight. The canal had been abandoned and the dam was 
neglected for seventeen years, an aperture 200 feet wide washed out of the 
centre. On May 19th, 1879, the South-Fork Fishing and Hunting Club was 
incorporated by a company of Pittsburgh gentlemen. Judge Stowe, at the 
November term of the Common Pleas of Allegheny county, granted the appli- 
cation for a charter. The record specifies in Charter Book, volume XXI, 
page 232 : 

In the matter of the Application for a 1 

i /// the Court of Common fleas Jyo. i, of Alie- 
Charter for the South-Fork Fishing and \ , _, 

gkeny County, No. , Dec. Xerm, lojg 

Hunting Club of Pittsburgh. 

To the Honorable, the Judges of the said Court : 

The undersigned petitioners, Citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, having asso- 
ciated ourselves together under the provisions of the Act of General Assembly entitled ' ' An 
Act for the Incorporation and regulation of certain Corporations," approved April 29th, A. D. 
1S74, and having made the following Certificate of organization as " The South-Fork Fishing 
and Hunting Club of Pittsburgh," do respectfully pray your Honorable Court to approve the 
same and order the recording thereof and to declare that the undersigned persons and their 
associates and successors shall be a body corporate under said Articles of Association, in 
accordance with the above entitled Act of Assembly, and we will ever pray, &c. 

C. A. Carpenter. Howard Hartley. 

D. R. Euwer. Wm. S..Dunn. 
W. F. Fundeneerg. H. C. Frick. 
B. F. Ruff. A. V. Holmes. 



THE SOUTH-FORK DAM. 5 I 

Allegheny Co., .m. — 

Personally before me, the undersigned, came Howard Hartley, who being duly sworn says 
that the statements in the foregoing petition contained are true, as he verily believes. 

Howard Hartley. 

Sworn to and subscribed before me this 15th day of November, 1879. 

Thos. Leggett, Notary Public [seal.] 

Due notice of publication in the Commercial Gazelle and the Post, both Pittsburgh papers. 
Charter of Incorporation. 

First. The name and title of this organization shall be the South-Fork Fishing and Hunt- 
ing Club of Pittsburgh, incorporated under and in pursuance of the provisions of an act of 
General Assembly of Pennsylvania, approved April 29, 1874, entitled "An Act, etc." 

Second. This association shall have for its object the protection and propagation of game 
and game fish, and the enforcement of all laws of this State against the unlawful killing or 
wounding of the same. 

Third. This association shall have its place of business in the city of Pittsburgh, county of 
Allegheny, State of Pennsylvania. 

Fourth. This association shall, as such, exist perpetually from the date of its incorporation. 

Fifth. The capital stock of this association shall be ten thousand dollars, divided into 
one hundred shares of the value of one hundred dollars each. 

Sixth. The names and residences of the subscribers hereto, with the number and value 
of the shares held by each, are as follows : 

Name. Residence. Shares. Value. 

B. F. Ruff '. . .Pittsburgh 8 $800 

F. H. Sweet Pittsburgh 2 200 

Chas. J. Clarke Pittsburgh • 2 200 

Thomas Clarke Pittsburgh 2 200 

W. F. Fundenberg Pittsburgh 2 200 

Howard Hartley Pittsburgh 2 200 

H. C. Yager Pittsburgh 2 200 

J. B. White Pittsburgh 2 200 

H. C. Frick Pittsburgh 6 600 

E. A. Meyers Pittsburgh 2 200 

C. C. Hussey Pittsburgh 2 200 

D. R. Euwer Allegheny 2 200 

C. A. Carpenter Allegheny 2 200 

W. S. Dunn . Pittsburgh 2 200 

W. L. McClintock Pittsburgh 2 200 

A. V. Holmes Pittsburgh 2 200 

Seventh. The number of the Directors shall be five and their names and residences for 
the first year are : C. C. Hussey, Pittsburgh; W. S. Dunn, Pittsburgh ; C. A. Carpenter, Pitts- 
burgh ; Howard Hartley, Pittsburgh ; W. F. Fundenburg, Pittsburgh. 

Eighth The officers of this association selected for the first year, with their residences 
are as follows : President, B. F. Ruff, Pittsburgh ; Secretary, E. A. Meyers, Pittsburgh ; Treas- 
urer, W. L. McClintock, who are to serve until the next annual election. 

D. R. Euwer, H. C. Frick, W. F. Fundenberg, 

Howard Hartley, B. F. Ruff, H. C. Yeager, 

C. A. Carpenter, Wm. S. Dunn, A. V. Holmes. 

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, ) 
County of Aflegheny. \ 

Be it remembered that, on the Fifteenth day of November. A. D. 1879, before me, Ralph 



52 



THE STOR V OF JOHKSTO WN. 



J. Richardson, Recorder of Deeds, etc., in and for said County, personally came B. F. Ruff, 
Howard Hartley and A. V. Holmes and acknowledged the foregoing instrument to be their act 
and deed for the purposes therein set forth, and desired that the same might be recorded 
as such. 

Witness my hand and seal, the day and year aforesaid. \ official \ 

R. J. Richardson, j seal, f 
Recorder. 
And now to wit : November ryth, 1879, the within petition and certificate of Organization 
having been presented in Open Court and due proof of the notice by publication required by 
the Act of Assembly entitled ' ' An Act to provide for the incorporation of certain Corporations, " 
approved April 29th, 1874, having been made and the said Certificate of Organization having 
been perused and examined by the undersigned Law Judge, and the same having been found to 
be in proper form and within the purposes named in the first class specified by the second 
section of said Act of Assembly, and the same appearing to be lawful and not injurious to the 
community, it is ordered and decreed that the said Charter is hereby approved and that, upon 
the recording of the same and this order, the subscribers thereto and their Associates and suc- 
cessors shall be a Corporation perpetually for the purposes and upon the terms therein stated. 

Edwin H. Stowe, 
Prest. Judge Court Com. Pleas No. 1, Allegheny Co., Pa. 
Attest : I court | 

B. F. Kennedy, "( seal. \ 
Protkonotary . 

The aggregate wealth of the sixty members of the club foots up dozens 
of millions. The capital stock was increased to §35,000, in order to provide 
an attractive retreat for the owners and their friends. Could they but have 
foreseen the fate of their innocent project ! 

A finer location for a pleasure resort could not be desired. The labor of 
a force of men for two years was expended in restoring and heightening the 
dam, increasing the basin to a sheet of water three miles long and one mile 
wide, of irregular oval .shape. The task was completed and the water, confined 
in 1 88 1, forming the beautiful Lake Conemaugh. Along the top of the dam, 
thirty-five feet in breadth and in the middle almost a hundred feet high, 
ran a drive-way. Sixteen handsome cottages and a club-house of forty- 
seven rooms were erected on the green slopes which bordered the shores of 

the lake. Claude 
Melnotte might 
have derived in- 
spiration from the 
mountain para- 
dise to trace new 
beauties in Lake 

A FARM HOUSE ON LAKE CONEMAUGH. ComO for the wil- 

ling ear of fair Pauline. The water was clear as Ponce de Leon's Fountain 
of Youth, and the air pure and bracing as the health-renewing ozone 
of the Catskills. Two steam yachts ploughed the basin of the lake, and ex- 
cursions were frequent. Boating and fishing parties from Johnstown enjoyed 




THE SOUTH- FORK DAM. 53 

the grand drive over the hills. The members of the club, wealthy coal and 
iron-men, spent a part of their summers at the Edenic retreat. None sup- 
posed the glass}- water, smooth and placid in the bright sunlight, hid a demon 
that should one day break loose and scatter destruction broadcast. At the 
worst, those who thought of it at all believed the bursting of the dam would 
merely raise the Conemaugh a few feet and dampen houses on the lowest 
grounds. To quiet any fears that might arise a committee of experts was ap- 
pointed to examine the dam. Everything looked strong and secure, although 
men employed in repairing the break are authority for the statement that 
stumps, sand, loam, leaves and straw were used to fill up the yawning chasm. 
The committee inspected the work, the outside of which revealed no symptoms 
of improper materials, and reported it perfectly safe. A recommendation to 
stop some ugly leaks and deepen the sluice-way — the only means of preventing 
the water from running over in case of violent rain — was carried out. People 
breathed more easily and the idea of danger was lulled to sleep. 

Samuel Flenner, of Adams township, who lives one mile west of the 
reservoir, says that the Fishing Club employed a man named McKane, of 
Pittsburgh, to repair the dam. Filling up about twenty-five feet in depth for 
about 200 feet in length, with sand and rotten leaves, he gave up the job, 
when the Club finished it by throwing in soap-stone, hay, and other flimsy 
materials. 

Fourteen feet below the crown of the dam was the ordinary height of the 
surface of the lake, a temporary rise bringing it occasionally within eight feet of 
the top. In June of 1887 a sudden flood swept the Conemaugh Valley, sub- 
merging the principal streets of Johnstown and causing serious alarm. Appre- 
hensions of evil from the dam were revived and intensified. The foundations 
were reported shaky and fresh leaks appeared. Soon the scare subsided and 
nothing was done to strengthen the dam, citizens remarking that the rumor was 
merely an incident of the annual freshets. The club had stocked the lake with 
game and fish and did not care to open the waste-gates, even if this could have 
been done. South Fork is not a large stream, and the leakages and the weirs 
prevented the water from getting above the dam, which was not built to with- 
stand an overflow. 

The last week of May. 1889, was notable in Central and Western Penn- 
sylvania for an extraordinary rain-fall. Day after day the windows of Heaven 
were opened, swelling the creeks to raging torrents. The Conemaugh leaped 
its banks and covered Johnstown flats to the depth of three feet. South Fork 
attained the proportions of a river, raising Lake Conemaugh to an unpre- 
cedented height. Steadily the turbid waters crept upward, until the}' poured 
over the top of the dam on Friday afternoon, May 31. The day was dark and 
stormy, a fitting prelude to the dismal tragedy that was to mark its dreadful 
close. The structure of mud and hay and boulders leaked furiously, honey- 



54 



THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 




DEVASTATION WROUGHT BY THE WATERS. 



combing the incongruous mass. Through the interstices of the masonry the 
angry water forced its way, each hour augmenting the number and extent of 
its encroachments. President Elias J. Unger, of the Fishing Club, set a gang 
of Italians to throw dirt on the face of the bank, in a vain attempt to stem the 
raging current. Mrs. Partington, seeking to drive back the ocean tide with a 
broom, was more effective. The lake rose constantly, and by noon the con- 
viction of imminent danger grew to a painful certainty. Warning messages 
were sent to the towns along the valley, rehearsing the condition of the dam, 
but they passed unheeded. The same tale had been heard so often that its 
repetition was considered an idle fiction. 

Herbert Webber, an employe of the club, noticed the water oozing from 
beneath the foundations about half-past twelve o'clock. Swiftly the under- 
mining went on, the knot of spectators standing by powerless to avert the im- 
pending calamity. Precisely at 2:50 the central stones sank down, opening a 
great rent in the lower half of the wall. Just at eight minutes past three 
o'clock the arched masonry toppled. Then the wall spread outward, as if 
splitting in twain, and the waters rushed forth madly, carrying death and 
devastation in their relentless march. The catastrophe men feared had come at 
last, in volume far exceeding the gloomiest forebodings, and the most dis- 
astrous flood in American history was starting on its awful mission. Fifteen 



THE SOUTH-FORK DAM. 



55 



minutes sufficed to lower the water fifty feet and tear a tremendous hole in the 
embankment. Niagara is a tiny rill in comparison with the hissing, seething, 
roaring avalanche hurled upon the doomed valley with merciless fury. 

George Gramling owns saw and grist-mills on Sandy Run, which were 
operated by water from a dam. This broke at seven in the morning, which 
led Mr. Gramling to think the big dam would go also. He and E. S. Gram- 
ling, Jacob G. Baumgardner and Samuel Helman started about 8 o'clock for 
the lake. When they arrived the water was six feet from the top of the breast 
and rising about a foot per hour. Toward noon Mr. Gramling went home for 
dinner and returned in two hours. Crossing on the bridge below the dam, he 
went up to the top and walked on the bridge over the waste-weir. The 
water was then running over the lowest portions of the crown half way up his 
boot-leg. He remained until the breast broke and the water started down the 
valley. The water, as it tumbled into the stream below, gradually washed the 
embankment away until it was not more than half its original thickness. A 
short section in the middle of the dam gave way, increasing as the waters 
swept through until the gap was a hundred yards wide. Had this gap been 
made all at once at the first break the flood must have been even more disas- 
trous. It was fifteen minutes from the time the dam broke until the great 
bulk of the water was discharged, if Mr. Gramling' s estimate be correct, and 
it accords closely with others. 

Ex-Poor Director Rorabaugh, whose farm adjoins the reservoir, stated : 

"In the morning it was raining hard. Thinking the water in the reservoir would rise to a 
great height, I went down to the breast. The water was then rising ten inches an hour. A 
gang of Hungarians was put to work at the south side of the dam to make an opening, and did 
succeed in letting some water out. The embankment was hard to cut, and little headway was 
made. The water continued to rise. At one o'clock, when I visited the dam a second time, the 
water was running over the breast. I soon went home, returning in an hour. About three 
o'clock a break occured in the breast of the dam, and the whole mass of water rushed with 
a tremendous roar down the valley. At the top the break was about three hundred feet wide 
and it sloped down to about two hundred, below which another break occurred about twenty- 
five feet wide, through which the stream now runs. I have been a resident of the reservoir 
neighborhood since 1844 and know about the construction of the dam. When the State first 
built it the breast was made entirely of clay, packed in layers, backed with rip-raps of stone. 
The Railroad Company made no change in the dam. When the Pittsburgh people got hold 
of it they began to make some additions to the breast. They hauled stone and patched up a 
break, and raised the breast and widened it with stone and earth. When Colonel Unger saw 
the condition of the dam — some time before it broke — he remarked that if it withstood this 
flood the association owning it would put it beyond all possibility of danger in the future. But 
it didn't hold, and when the Colonel saw it go he, realizing the awful consequences of the 
break, became so ill that he had to be assisted to the hotel." 

A Philadelphia civil engineer, John G. Parke, who was superintending 
drainage improvements at the lake, says : 

"For several days prior to the breaking of the dam, storm after storm swept over the 
mountains, flooding every creek and rivulet. The waters from these varied sources flowed 



56 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

into the lake, which finally was not able to stand the pressure. On Friday morning I realized 
the danger that threatened and from that time every effort was made to prevent a flood, with- 
out avail. When I at last found that the dam was bound to go, I started out to tell the people. 
By twelve o'clock everybody in the Conemaugh region ought to have known of the danger. 
Three hours later my gravest fears were more than realized. It is an erroneous opinion that 
the dam burst. It simply moved away. The water gradually ate into the embankment until 
there was nothing left but a frail bulwark of wood. This split asunder and sent the water 
hurling down the mountains." 

Truly the dam had "moved away." The sword of Damocles could not 
always hang suspended, neither was it reasonable to suppose that a dam 
unprovided with facilities to discharge its waters would endure perpetually. 
Had repairs followed the spring freshets of 1877-8, or the waste-gates not 
been discarded, the sad story of the fatal dam at South Fork might have 
remained unwritten. But helpless captives used to be "butchered to make a 
Roman holiday," and 50,000 lives in Pennsylvania were jeopardised for eight 
years that a club of rich pleasure-seekers might fish and sail and revel in luxur- 
ious ease during the heated term. Frightful was the risk and terrible the 
penalty exacted. The courts will settle the question of the club's responsibility 
for the disaster, suits for damages having been entered. Alas ! for the thought- 
less selfishness of weak humanit}' ! Isaac G. Reed has written : 

Many thousand human lives — 
Butchered husbands, slaughtered wives, 

Mangled daughters, bleeding sons, 

Hosts of martyred little ones 
(Worse than Herod's awful crime) 
Sent to Heaven before their time ; 

Lovers burntand sweethearts drowned, 

Darlings lost but never found ! 

All the horrors that hell could wish. 
Such was the price that was paid for— fish ! 

A dam which vomited a flood 
Of water turning into blood ; 

A deafening, rumbling, groaning roar 

That ne'er was heard on earth before ; 
A maddening whirl, a leap, a dash — 
And then a crush— and then a crash— 

A wave that carried off a town — 

A blow that knocked a city down. 

All the horrors that hell could wish, 
Such was the price that was paid for — fish ! 

An hour of flood, a night of flame, 
A week of woe without a name — 

A week when sleep, with hope, had fled, 

While misery hunted for its dead ; 
A week of corpses by the mile, 
One long, long week, without one smile, 

A week whose tale no tongue can tell, 

A week %vithout a larallel ! 

All the horrors that hell could wish, 
Such was the price that was paid for — fish ! 

From the very first the evidence against the constructors and maintainers 
of the dam appeared strong, positive and convincing. Frequent examinations 
of the dam were made, but examinations without authoritj' back of them 



THE SOUTH-FORK DAM. 57 

to compel repairs, rebuilding or removal amount to nothing. The 
remains of the dam have been examined by two expert engineers, Mr. A. M. 
Wellington and Mr. F. P. Burt, the latter associate editor of the Engineering 
News, both capable and disinterested judges. Theyreported that the old dam 
used for the abandoned canal and the enlarged dam were of earth only, with no 
"heart-wall" and only "rip-rapped" on the slopes. Such a cheap and care- 
less construction for such a locality involved either dense ignorance or criminal 
carelessness, or both. These expert engineers further say that the dam 
should have been crowned in the middle, so that any overflow would have 
been divided and passed over the ends, while, in order to save the 
"game fish," sufficient sluice-ways for the escape of water were not made. 
The conclusions of these gentlemen are what might have been expected. 
The legal proceedings and investigations which are inevitable ought to 
be exhaustive. There is no doubt that this great reservoir, high above the 
towns in the narrow valleys, was a perpetual menace. If men were 
continually thinking of the perils they incur, the people of Johnstown could 
not have slept. The terrible hazard hung over them night and day. They 
knew it. But the dam had not burst, though often reported in danger, and 
they fell into the habit of unconcern. It is now plain that such a risk should 
not have been taken at all. Under the circumstances, a great reservoir of 
water, so placed and so confined, was such a menace to the lives of many 
thousands of people that it should not have been tolerated for a day. It was 
thought safe. But it was not safe. It was considered that no ordinary con- 
ditions could make it break the dam. But extraordinary conditions will at 
times exist. It was said — using the strongest guarantee which has been cited 

that in the judgment of the builders only a convulsion of nature could 

destroy such a dam. Suppose there should be a convulsion of nature ! Sup- 
pose that a waterspout should come, or an earthquake, was it reasonable that, 
for the sake of a few people's boating and fishing a few weeks in the year, an 
avalanche should be hung over the heads of all the people in the valley below, 
ready to fall when nature suffered some unusual experience ? The lake ought 
not to have been allowed in a situation so related to the towns below. That 
is the whole case. 

It was my fortune, after witnessing the unspeakable horrors at Johns- 
town, to be the first to traverse the whole length and breadth of the devastated 
region, from the ruined, emptied Lake Conemaugh to Nineveh. The visit to 
the dam disclosed how the water had carved a highway for itself in its exhaust- 
less rage. Both wings of the dam were standing intact, mute, hoary, moss- 
' grown testimonies to the superior work done by the first contractors. The 
newer portions had gone, leaving not a particle of refuse, so thorough was the 
destruction. Masons could not have taken out the stone passage-ways more 
cleanly. The proud lake had dwindled to a thread winding amid the loose 



5 8 



THE STOR Y OF JOHNSTO WN. 



stones and mudd}' deposits of a petty brook. The cottages looked upon a 
slimy, oozing gully, no longer the silver expanse that had pleased the eye two 
days before. Off on the hillside the pretty cottage -of Col. Unger, the club- 
house and residences on both banks of the lake seemed to invite the guests 
who did not come. The mountains with their early foliage, the verdant lawns, 
the fields carpeted in green and the invigorating atmosphere, which had regaled 
the mirthful throngs of former years, none were there to enjoy. Laughter 
echoed not along the peaks and slopes. Merry children were not playing on 
the banks. The cottages sent forth no sounds of revelry. A ragged boy, fish- 
ing in the "deep hole" below the dam, hooked a bass. Grass and weeds 
were already springing up on the brink of the ugly cavity. A delicate white 
flower, that had lifted away a counterpane of damp leaves, peeped timidly 
from the foot of a withered tree. Birds hopped hither and thither, and a single 
chipmunk frisked about the hideous gulf, blissfully unconscious of the mischief 
wrought by the unsparing despoiler. 




DEAD BODIES ON THE RAILROAD TRACK. 




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VI. 



MARCH OF THE DESTROYER. 



A Day of Funereal Gloom — Rush of Waters Down the Valley — John Baker's Heroic 
Ride — Ravages at South-Fork — First Victim of the Flood — Shafer's Fate — An En- 
gineer's Escape — Railroaders Drowned — Sad Scenes Along the Route — The Via- 
duct Washed Away — Mineral Point Obliterated — The High Bridge Gone — A Per- 
ilous Journey — Terrible Loss of Life and Property at East Conemaugh — Franklin 
Borough Plunged into Mourning. 



" The raging flood 
Rolled a broad slaughter down the peaceful vale, 
And nature's self did seem to totter on the brink of tinie."- 



■Adapted. 



HEN THE fatal break in the dam occurred the 
skies wore a leaden hue, as if in mourning 
for the region about to experience a direful 
visitation. Clouds of inky blackness spread 
a funereal pall, veiling the sun from mortal 
view. The atmosphere was damp and murky 
and the earth saturated with moisture. Rain- 
drops glistened on every leaf and blade of 
grass, nature's subsidy of tears over the ap- 
proaching horror. Swollen rivulets murmured 
a solemn requiem, for the supreme moment 
had come to hurry thousands of unsuspecting 
souls into eternity. Unseen and disregarded, 
the Destroyer shadowed the devoted Cone- 
maugh Valley, ready to strike the blow that should convert it into one great 
charnel-house. Insatiate Death, hungry for his prey, awaited the signal to cut 
down the human harvest which might glut even the grim reaper. Wholesale 
casualties have not been wanting at any period, but the most appalling of 

61 




WHERE TWO BRAKEMEN DIED. 



62 



THE STOR Y OF JOHNSTO WN. 



them all was now to be appended to the dreary list. Asia and Africa have been 
the scene of inundations attended with frightful mortality, the greatest of 
which this continent was destined to dwarf into comparative insignificance. 
John Baker, a young man of medium size, with an honest face and a brave 

heart, on Friday afternoon mounted 
his horse Leo and rode up from 
South Fork to see the dam. Dis- 
quieting rumors had circulated 
through the mining vilage, two and 
one-third miles northward, where the 
Fo*k unites with Conemaugh Creek. 
South Fork had risen in the fore- 
noon to the floors of twenty dwell- 
ings clustered along its east shore. 
The occupants took refuge with 
neighbors on the higher grounds. 
As Baker drew near the dam he 
saw the central part collapse and 
the water pour out furiously. Not 
a moment was to be lost. Turning 
his horse and lashing the gallant 
animal into a fierce gallop, he rode 
back at a violent pace. A short 
distance below the dam stood the 
farm-house of George Fisher. 
Young Baker's shouts alarmed the inmates, who hastened to the hill-side be- 
fore their home was borne off. The household of Fisher's father, across the 
creek, fled in the same manner just in time to avoid a watery grave. Farther 
down was a wooden bridge. It vanished in a twinkling, forty minutes after the 
last passenger had driven over the frail structure. George Lamb tilled a farm 
and lived in a frame house close to the road, on the west bank. He and his 
family got out and watched their residence join the Fisher buildings in the 
swirling cataract. The intervening space to the upper end of South Fork, a 
hamlet of fifteen hundred population, is principally woods, bold bluffs skirting 
the stream. Onward sped the daring rider, the tempestuous deluge plunging 
and leaping behind him. The houses not previously vacated were deserted 
immediately as his frantic note of warning sounded in the ears of the startled 
dwellers on the bottom land. The next instant the village sustained the 
shock of the inundation. Thirty-seven buildings tumbled or floated away. 
Thanks to John Baker's heroic endeavors, many lives were spared. Genuine 
heroes are proverbially diffident, and here is the simple narrative of this youth- 
ful emulator of Paul Revere, told me from his own lips: 




JOHN BAKER. 



MARCH OF THE DESTROYER. 6" 1 

" I am eighteen years old and live with my father at South Fork. On the day of the flood 
the creek rose very high and people got scared about the dam. After dinner I saddled Leo 
and rode up, for I wanted to know how things looked. Just as I got there I saw the middle 
drop out, and I knew the whole dam must go. I didn't stop a second, but turned my horse, and 
started back as fast as he could run. I pulled out a red pocket-handkerchief and waved it in 
front of Leo, which frightened him and be ran like fury. I shouted to George Fisher's family, 
and they ran up the hill. Looking back, I saw the flood tearing down like a big wave and 
Fisher's house carried off. I kept on to town, shouting at the upper end to the people to fly for 
their lives. I stopped near our place and yelled at the Lutts to come out of their house. My 
parents and sisters went up the hill back of the hotel, the water rising to the ceiling of the first 
story. I don't think I was two minutes ahead of the flood. It was a hard ride and I did my 
best to warn folks of the danger." 

Two hundred yards above the mouth of the creek a railroad trestle led to 
Sheriff Stineman's coal-mine. At its east end was a shanty, occupied by 
Michael Mann, an English miner, who dwelt alone. A column of smoke indi- 
cated that he was cooking his frugal meal when Baker's screams pierced the 
air. The water touched the door-sill and Mann looked out. Imitating sinners 
in Noah's day, who declared it would not be much of a shower and refused to 
enter the ark, the Englishman paid no heed to the summons to flee. Clos- 
ing the door, his fate was quickly sealed. Within three minutes the tidal 
wave crushed the shanty and the long trestle. Ten days later a neighbor, 
walking on the track of the Pennsylvania Railroad, noticed a strange object 
half-buried in the mud and bushes a few rods west of the old Viaduct. Going 
closer, he recognized the dead body of Michael Mann, denuded of clothing and 
so badly decomposed it could not be lifted. The remains were dropped into 
a hole, dug beside them, to repose until Gabriel's trump announces the final 
reckoning. Mann was generally styled "Reverend," from his habit of exhorting 
occasionally. His wife and two sons survive him. Thus perished and thus 
sleeps in a solitary, unmarked grave, far from his home and kindred, the 
First Victim of the Johnstown Flood. 

Four men were clearing out the rubbish propelled against the west end of 
Stineman's trestle by the turbulent creek. The revengeful column swooped 
upon them, engulfing Howard Shafer in the act of climbing the steep bank his 
companions ascended. The body was found next day and taken to the deso- 
late home where the sorrowing widow lamented her missing husband. The 
entire village manifested its . sympathy by attending the funeral on Sunday. 
Shafer was the second victim. 

The seething, fuming monster gathered strength and volume at each stage 
of its impetuous stride. Stones from the dam and boulders from the bed of the 
Fork rolled down the ravine, a trough one-quarter of a mile wide, to the Cone- 
maugh. Trees snapped off as one might fell a mullein-stalk by a swish of a 
cane. Ponderous rocks were tossed like straws and the ground was scoured 
clear to the unyielding strata. The middle of the dam — a section three hundred 
feet in length — scooped out two-thirds of its depth from the drive-way, a 



6 4 



THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 



narrower gap extending to the bottom of the foundations. Bearing acres of 
trees, houses, bridges, logs, rocks and earth, the rushing mass resembled a 
huge wall bounding down the valley when it reached Conemaugh Creek. There 
it encountered the high embankment and massive iron bridge of the Pennsyl- 
vania Railroad. The bridge, thirty-five feet above low-water, quivered and 
dropped out of sight, the wanton element forcing it one-eighth of a mile up 
the Conemaugh in its mad search for an outlet, Barns and outbuildings sailed 
in the .same direction, returning as the flood receded. Wilson's stable, with 
two mules, a horse and a cow, landed in rear of the station, a big tree 
under it and the animals unhurt. The water rose about forty-one feet, sub- 
merging the railroad tracks six feet at the depot. The double house occupied 
by the station-agent and the foreman of the section-gang was deposited endwise 
in a gully. A dainty morsel was Patrick Rourck's house, across the creek, 
with its furniture and one thousand dollars in bank bills. Of Stineman & 
Murphy's planing-mill, at the junction of the streams, only the boiler and 
bits of broken machinery remained. A patch of cellar-wall marked the site of 
the coal company's supply-store. Had an earthquake swallowed them, the 
disappearance of the goods and superstructure could not have been more com- 
plete. Smaller buildings were dispersed promiscuously. The mountain of 
water, not finding sufficient room between the hills that hemmed in the Cone- 
maugh, backed up both creeks. A grocery and a barber-shop went voyaging 
on the Fork, stranding ninety rods above their starting-point. Three neat 
residences adjoining the planing-mill were totally obliterated and the gardens 
stripped bare of vegetation and soil. That the loss of life was not vastly 
greater is, indeed, surprising. 

A freight train lay side-tracked near the lower end of the bridge. Engi- 
neer H. M. Bennett heard 
the roar of the advancing 
deluge and surmised that 
the dam had broken. Un- 
coupling the locomotive — 
No. 1 165 — and flinging the 
throttle open, he and Con- 
ductor S. W. Keltz en- 
deavored to cross. Steam 
was low and the engine 
hardly stirred. On the 
switch leading to the plan- 
ing-mill and coal-mine an- 
other freight was pulling 
reached the main track just as the detached engine got over the 
Fifty yards further the water struck Bennett's locomotive, pitching 




ENGINE 1165 CROSSES THE BRIDGE. 



out. It 
bridge. 



MARCH OF THE DESTROYER. 



65 



the tender and hind wheels off the track. The engineer and conductor 
sprang to the cow-catcher and jumped on the caboose of the preceding train, 
narrowly escaping. They had a close call for life, and their adventure was de- 
cidedly exciting. 

In the caboose of Keltz's train slept the fireman and a brakeman, Thomas 
Kehoe and J. Henderson. Aroused by a loud cry, at the rear door they sank 
into the abyss. Kehoe' s body, the head stuck fast in the sand, was recovered 
near-by on Saturday and sent to Altoona for burial. Henderson's was not 
found for several days. The list of victims at South Fork, therefore, com- 
prises these four : 

Michael Mann, miner, aged 40 years. 

Howard Shafer, laborer, aged 22. 

Thomas Kehoe, fireman. 

J. Henderson, brakeman. 

The tracks for a mile west of the bridge were twisted into fantastic shapes 
and dumped along the river-bed. Not a rail or tie was in place, except where 
dismantled freight cars had been shifted on Friday forenoon. A train of 
loaded freights lodged against the bluff, three cars alighting squarely on the 
Portage track. The lady operator had a hurried scramble up the hill to avoid 
accompanying the telegraph-tower, a trifling bite for the greedy wave. Frag- 
ments of cars, wheels, axles and piles of refuse littered the bank, while ragged 
gashes at short intervals seamed and scarred the road to the hard-pan far be- 
neath the surface. 

Who has not heard of the famous Viaduct? Built in 183 1-2 for the 
Allegheny-Portage Railroad, the arch was considered impregnable. Solomon 
W. Roberts, of Philadelphia, an accomplished engineer, designed and superin- 
tended its construction as assistant of Sylvester Welch. In an address before 
the Historical Society of Pennsylvania on April 8th, 1879, giving his reminis- 
cences of the building of the Portage Railroad, Mr. Roberts thus referred to 
the Viaduct : 

"When we reached the Horseshoe Bend of the Conemaugh, about eight miles from Johns- 
town, I was in charge of the locating party. The 
line was made to cross the stream and cut across 
the bend so as to save distance, which made a high 
bridge necessary. The Horseshoe bridge, or Cone- 
maugh Viaduct, is still standing, and is used by the 
Pennsylvania Railroad Company as a part of its 
main line ; and it is, I believe, almost the only 
structure of the old Portage Railroad now in use. 
It is a substantial and imposing piece of masonry, 
about seventy feet high, and with a semi-circular 
arch of eighty feet span. The chief engineer had 
prepared a plan for a bridge of two arches, each of 
fifty feet span, but afterward adopted the plan of 
the present structure. It was designed and its erection superintended by me. The work was 




THE OLD VIADUCT. 



J4 



66 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

done by an honest Scotch stonemason named John Durno, who was afterward killed by falling 
from another high bridge. The arch is three and a-half feet thick at the springing line and 
three feet at the crown ; the arch stones are of light-colored sandstone and the backing of sili- 
cious limestone, found near the spot. The sandstone was split from erratic blocks, often of 
great size, which were found lying in the woods, on the surface of the ground. The contract 
price for the masonry was $4.20 per perch of twenty-five cubic feet, and the work was remark- 
ably well done. The face stones were laid in mortar from the silicious limestone, without the 
addition of any sand. The cost of the Viaduct was about $55,000, and by building it a lateral 
bend of about two miles was avoided. The embankment at the end of the viaduct was sixty- 
four feet high." 

Here the Conemaugh turns abruptly, traveling two miles to form an ox- 
bow a few yards across. Part of the waters streamed through the cut leading 
to the old bridge, which supported two steel tracks, the main body of the flood 
circling the tortuous channel. The arch reared its imposing curve seventy 
feet above the average height of the river, presumably beyond the grasp of the 
ravager. Precipitous hills contracted the channel and the foaming waters 
heaped up as never before. They enveloped the Viaduct, which trembled and 
fell. An iron bed-plate, weighing twenty tons, floated forty rods and the com- 
pact stones laid in cement scattered like pebbles. Logs stranded in the 
topmost branches of trees and marks on the rocks proved that the waters had 
risen seventy-nine feet ! No wonder the staunch Viaduct, which the assaults of 
sixty years had not impaired, succumbed at last. John Armstrong was right 
in saying : 

" What does not fade? The tower that long had stood 
The crash of thunder and the warring winds * * * * 
Now hangs in doubtful ruins o'er its base ; 
And flinty pyramids and walls of brass 
Descend." 

Paddling an improvised raft of sticks and broken boards athwart the 
bridgeless stream, the toilsome journey in the track of the flood was resumed. 
The railroad was amply elevated for two miles west of the Viaduct to sustain 
no damage. The brick station at Mineral Point loomed up, but what of the 
pretty hamlet nestling at the foot of the hills on the opposite side of the 
Conemaugh ? Thirty-two cosy abodes had ranged along a tongue of flat 
land, facing the creek and a street. A furniture factory and a planing-mill 
supplied work for the men, whose happy homes presented a picture of con- 
tentment and peace. The people had no thought of hazard, although the creek 
was so high that several families moved out in the afternoon. On came the tur- 
bid waters, emitting a cloud of mist suggestive of the smoke of a burning forest 
or the dust of a whirlwind in the Sahara. They struck the house at the upper 
end of the row and it dissolved. One minute cleared away twenty-six dwell- 
ings and the gardens surrounding them. The planing-mill and factory 
vanished. Six buildings in the lower end of the village, one of them the 
school-house, which was jerked from its foundations, were left. A barren 
waste, destitute of soil as a block of granite, marked the site of what had 



MARCH OF THE DESTROYER. 67 

been an inviting spot. Dismal was the spectacle to those who knew Mineral 
Po'nt in its tranquil repose. Sixteen persons perished : 

Mrs. Catharine J. Byers, aged 46 

Mrs. Catharine Burkhart, aged 85, mother of Mrs. Byers. 

Mrs. Phoebe Finlay, aged 58. 

Mrs. Magdalen Gromley, aged 48. 

Lily Gromley, aged 19. 

Mary Gromley, aged 16. 

J. A. Gromley, aged 14. 

David Gromley, aged 12. 

Edward E. Gromley, aged 9. 

Emma B. Gromley, aged 6. 

Samuel Page, aged 49. 

Mrs. Mary E. Page, aged 39. 

Harriet Page, aged n. 

Herman B. Page, aged 6. 

James Wilson, aged 33. 

S. S. Kohler, night watchman at planing-mill. 

The bodies of Page and Kohler were recovered on Sunday and some of the 
others during the week. Wilson stayed to loosen his horses, which went 
down with him and the stable. Mrs. Burkhart lived with her daughter, the 
pair dying together. Christopher Gromley and one son contrived to jump 
from the roof as their house careened by the bank four miles below Mineral 
Point. They returned in three hours to find the rest of the family dead. A 
flock of geese wandered in the rear of the Page lot as the writer viewed 
the scene. Two dogs howled disconsolately for the masters who should come 
no more, and a drenching rain added to the doleful forlornness. The clock in 
the railroad tower stopped at 3:41, fixing the precise moment of the disaster. 
Mineral Point had felt in full measure the wrath of the destroyer. 

Enclosed by lofty hills and rocky bluffs, the creek pursues its winding 
course four miles to East Conemaugh. Perpetual breaks interrupted my trip. 
For a mile the three tracks were piled on each other, a piece frequently lack- 
ing. A short distance east of the tunnel — a reminder of the Portage — the 
road-bed was annihilated, compelling an ascent by a rough path to the de- 
serted line on the wooded hillside. Walking through the dripping tunnel, 
which rarely echoes the tread of human feet, and down the slope that once 
served as an incline up which cars were drawn by a stationary engine, Penn- 
sylvania railroad bridge No. 6 was missing. This splendid structure, known 
as the "High Bridge," appeared solid enough to endure the severest test. 
But man' s work is puny in competition with the elements and the bridge yielded. 
. The company erected a gigantic trestle in five days, requiring six hundred 
thousand feet of timber, and began pushing forward a stone arched bridge with 
characteristic expedition. 

The waters stripped the soil and trees from the banks, annexing them to 



68 THE STOR V OF JOHNSTO WN. 

the overwhelming weight of the crushing, grinding mass. Houses from South 
Fork and Mineral Point were knocked to pieces and tangled inextricably. 
The covering of the water-line of the Cambria Iron Company was cleared, 
exposing the pipes paralleling the bed of the Portage, in its prime a marvel 
of engineering skill. Timbers framed and buried fifty years ago were bared 
once more, and one strap rail, rusty and bent, vividly recalled the initial 
days of railroading. The journey had to be continued by creeping over the 
jagged rocks, at whose base the waters dashed noisily. Chunks of stone and 
loosened trees rolled down the hills at times, significant hints of the perils 
environing the route. 

The engine and car that brought Assistant-Superintendent Tromp from 
Pittsburgh in the morning stood on the only piece of track for miles, the air- 
brakes holding them on the rails when the waters laved the windows of the 
coach. A mile ahead the creek curved around a rocky bend. The road-bed 
— an embankment twenty feet high — was a thing of the past. No vestige of 
ballast, clay, rails or ties could be discovered. The foaming, fretting waters 
turned the sharp curve with such velocity that Jacob W. Griffin's house, 
sheltered by the perpendicular rock, was scarcely moistened. East Cone- 
maugh, a railroad town, with a round-house and the homes of two hundred 
employes, was built mainly on the flat between the creek and the sloping 
ground leading to the hills back of the village. Forty of these houses ranged 
on the north side of Front street. From Griffith's the destruction was total 
to the west end of the street, with everything south to the creek. The brick 
round-house contained nine locomotives and twenty more in the yard. Build- 
ing and engines were involved in the common ruin. The incredible force of 
the flood may be conjectured from the fact that a locomotive boiler was carried 
two miles and deposited in Johnstown, across Conemaugh Creek. Think of 
this and wonder not at the carnival of ruin ! The angel of death shrouded 
the community in gloom for these lost ones : 

John Atkinson, aged 72. 

Mrs. Matilda Burk, aged 37. 

Mrs. Sarah Coy, aged 50. 

Newton G. Coy, aged 16. 

Alexander Kerr, aged 45. 

Mary Kerr, aged 1. 

Mrs. Ellen McHugh, aged 45. 

Gertrude McHugh, aged 16. 

J. S. McHugh, aged 14. 

Mrs. McKim, an aged woman. 

Mrs. Zane, age unknown. 

The forty buildings destroyed included the Eagle Hotel, Philip Shupe's 

store, Shepherd's store, the post-office, the railway station and round-house, 

the Central Hotel and private residences. None acquainted with the site 

could have recognized East Conemaugh. The current dug a new channel and 



MARCH OF THE DESTROYER. 69 

half the to\\m had been blotted out. Three passenger trains, belated by the high 
water, suffered fearfully. These and shattered freight trains occupied the sole 
remaining pieces of track from two miles above. Conemaugh to Johnstown sta- 
tion. Thirty wrecked locomotives were distributed over acres of territory, 
most of them planted deep in the mud. 

The water scaled the opposite bank, on which Franklin borough is 
located, in their haste to describe the abrupt curve in the creek at the upper 
end of East Conemaugh. A child playing in his father's back-yard was 
sucked into the torrent. Twenty-eight homes joined the dreadful procession 
that had attained alarming proportions from the constant additions of wreck- 
age. Frederick Nissley's dwelling was plucked from between two others, 
which passed unscathed. One of the two houses at the chemical works 
sustained little hurt, although the second was converted into toothpicks. 
Kindred and acquaintances mourned the fate of seventeen persons : 

Mrs. Essie Keiper, aged 24. 

Ralph Keiper, aged 1. 

George Constable. 

Mrs. Sarah E. Leech, wife of County Superintendent. 

Alice Leech, aged 18, daughter of County Superintendent. 

William Mills. 

Ida Loudenstein. 

Mrs. Christine Robina, aged 25. 

Eddie Robina, aged 2. 

William Robina, aged 8 months. 

Peter Rubritz, aged 65. 

Mrs. Peter Rubritz. 

Maggie Rubritz, aged 20. 

Dr. J. C. Wilson, aged 53. 

Mrs. Wilson, aged 52. 

Solomon Boyer. 

Miss Lizzie Devlin, niece of Dr. Wilson. 

Dr. Wilson's body was found on Monday in the sand at the Baltimore & 
Ohio depot, Johnstown, two miles from his home, over the site of which the 
creek now flows. The same day Mrs. Wilson's was found in Kernville, on 
the south-side of Stony Creek. Mrs. Leech was taken from the yard of the 
Cambria Iron Works, below the Pennsylvania Railroad station, and her daugh- 
ter from a heap of rubbish above the chemical works. They were interred in 
the cemetery at East Conemaugh. Some of the others will not be heard of 
until the resurrection. 

John Keiper, fireman on the railroad, who lived at Franklin, lost his wife 
and child. He swam out and caught a log, on which he drifted to the South 
Side of Johnstown. All his clothing was torn off. 

Grace Knuff lived with Peter Rubritz in Franklin borough. Running to 
an attic window as the house went down, she could not get out. She floated 



7o 



THE STOR Y OF JOHNSTO WN. 



away with the building and was saved at the chemical works. Frank Trout, 
of East Conemaugh, was employed by the Johnson Company at Woodvale- 
He was on his way to work and the flood caught him at the ticket-gate of the 
Fair Grounds. He scrambled upon the ticket-office roof and afterward got on a 
telephone pole, which was broken off. He clasped a second telephone pole 
and it was carried away. Then he mounted a log, and was carried over 
the woolen-mill dam. Farther on he was caught between two logs and se- 
verely squeezed. Extricating himself, he mounted one of the logs, floated to the 
stone bridge in Johnstown and back to the Presbyterian Church. Thence he 
made his way to Alma Hall and was saved. 

East Conemaugh and Franklin, separated by a narrow stream, were not 
divided in mutual sorrow. 



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VII. 



WRECK OF THE DAY EXPRESS. 



A Thrilling Episode — The Fated Passenger Trains at East Conemaugh — Hours op 
Anxious Waiting — An Engineer's Shrill Warning — The Avalanche of Death — . 
Hurrying to the Hills for Safety — Drowned and Carried Away by the Flood — ■ 
Vestibuled Coaches Burned — Round-House Wiped Out — Locomotives Buried 
— How Two Fair Girls Perished — Statements of Awe-Struck Survivors — A Dis- 
aster Unparalleled in Railroad Annals. 



' When life is old, 



And many a scene forgot, the heart will hold 
Its memory of this." 



SHRILLING in the extreme was the wreck of the 
Day Express at East Conemaugh. The two sec- 
tions composing this train eastward left Pittsburgh 
at the usual hour on Friday morning, with a 
liberal complement of passengers. The swollen 
Conemaugh, whose banks the main line of the Penn- 
sylvania Railroad follows for forty miles, looked 
threatening as it bore off numberless saw-logs 
and masses of drift-wood. At Johnstown the 
streets were submerged and reports of landslides 
and washouts caused a delay. Proceeding to East 
Conemaugh, the sections were run on separate 
tracks, with a freight train between them. Other 
freights occupied different positions near the depot 
and the mail train was placed in the rear of the first section of the express. 
Telegraph wires and poles had fallen and definite information regarding the 
track could not be obtained by the anxious railway officials. For a time the 
passengers sought to dispel their uneasiness by reading and chatting. Three 

73 




JOHN HESS* LOCOMOTIVE. 



74 THE STOR Y OF JOHNSTO WN. 

weary hours passed. Whispers that the dam at Lake Conemaugh might 
break blanched the faces of the stoutest. Assistant-Superintendent Tromp 
had gone a couple of miles farther, with an engine and coach, to ascertain the 
state of affairs. Another locomotive, handled by Engineer John Hess, was 
stationed a mile east of the express train as a precaution. Rain beat on the 
cars and the wind moaned distressfully. Each moment seemed a short 
eternity, nor could the feeling of impending evil be shaken off. Most of the 
passengers on the mail train were familiar with the country and knew the 
dangerous situation, should the reservoir burst its bounds. They left the 
train about noon, but the through passengers stayed in the vestibuled parlor 
cars of the Day Express. At last the shrieks oi a locomotive whistle were 
heard, sounding like the wailings of a lost soul. The passengers rose from 
their seats instinctively, realizing that something serious had happened. A 
conductor or brakeman entered each coach and remarked quietly : 
" Please step up on the hill-side as quickly as possible !" 

There was no time for explanation and none was needed. No time for lin- 
gering farewell, last kiss and fond caress. Already the roar of advancing waters 
filled the air. Those who first reached the platform saw wrecked houses, broken 
bridges, trees and rocks borne on a tidal wave just turning the bend three hun- 
dred yards away. Frantic exertions were made to escape to the protecting hills 
back of the station. An old mill-race, never filled up, was in the way, with 
narrow planks for crossings. Some of the terrified passengers jumped or fell 
into the waters and drowned, the deluge from the reservoir overtaking them as 
they floundered in the ditch. A few of those who could not leave the train sur- 
vived with painful bruises, a drenching and a paralyzing fright, the waters 
rising half-way to the car-roofs. Several were caught in the deadly swirl as 
they tried to crawl under the vestibuled coaches of the second section, which 
lay on the inside track. It was the work of a moment to envelop the trains. 
The horror-stricken spectators beheld a sight unexampled in the history of 
railroading. An ominous crash, and the round-house and nine heavy engines 
disappeared. Everything in the line of the flood was displaced or swallowed 
up. Locomotives were tossed aside and their tenders spirited off. A baggage- 
car of the mail train broke its couplings and drifted out of view, while the rear 
car swung around at right angles to the track. A Pullman coach rolled off and 
was crushed, a resident picking up one of its gas fixtures next day at the lower 
end of Woodvale. Mere playthings for the whirlpool, engines and cars were 
hidden beneath timbers, brush and dirt. Slaked by the water, a cargo of 
lime on the train between the sections of the express set two Pullman coaches 
blazing. Thus fire and flood combined to lend fresh horrors to the onslaught. 
The coaches burned to the trucks. By five o'clock the force of the torrent had 
subsided and an estimate of the carnage was attempted. Hardly a shred was 
saved from the trains, the passengers having left baggage and garments in their 



WRECK OF THE DAY EXPRESS. n r< 

frenzied flight. Many had neither hats nor wraps, but this was scarcely thought 
of in the confusion and excitement. Bitter lamentations for missing ones tem- 
pered the joy of the survivors over their own safety. Twenty-two of their num- 
ber had been snatched away. Names and residences could not be fixed at once, 
nor was their identity positively established for weeks. Efforts to obtain an 
accurate list resulted in the following : 

Mrs. Fanny Tarbell and three children, Cleveland, O. 

Cyrus H. Schick, Reading, Pa. 

Miss Eliza Stinson, Norristown, Pa. 

John R. Day and daughter, Prospect, Md. 

Andrew Ewing, Snow Shoe, Pa. 

Mrs Mary A. Swineford, aged lady, New Berlin, Pa. 

Mrs. Edward Swineford, St. Louis, Mo. 

Miss Jennie Paulson, Allegheny, Pa. 

Miss Elizabeth M. Bryan, Philadelphia, Pa. 

Mrs. J. F. King and Miss Anne M. Bates, Racine, Wis. 

Mrs. A. C. Christman, Beauregard, Miss. 

Mrs. J. B. Rainey, Kalamazoo, Mich. 

Christopher Meisel, Jersey City, N. J. 

John Ross, cripple, Newark, N. J. 

Mrs. H. M. Smith and child, Osborn, O. 

F. Phillips, colored porter sleeping-car. 

Upon the first warning of the death-dealing wave, Engineer Hess tied the 
whistle of his locomotive open, put on all steam and dashed towards East Cone- 
maugh. The whistle screamed and howled as if a tortured fiend possessed it, 
bringing people to their doors in hot haste and enabling hundreds to flee to 
high ground ere their houses were engulfed. The brave engineer jumped from 
the iron steed barely in time to save his life by a hasty race beyond the invad- 
ing waters. Next instant the flood swept the engine from the track, whirling and 
rolling it over and over, and embedded it in the dirt. Lying bruised and 
pummelled and disabled, pitiful was its helplessness compared with its strength 
as it had stood upon the track in its burnished bravery of steel and brass, ready 
at the lever's touch to pluck big handfuls of power and fling them in fleecy 
volumes to the skies. Silent was the whistle that had informed the passengers 
and citizens of the coming destruction. During the height of the flood the sound 
of locomotive whistles from the midst of the waters startled and surprised the 
fugitives huddled on the hill. Two engineers, with the nerve typical of their 
class, had stuck to their cabs. While awful wreck and devastation environed 
them, the brazen throats pealed a defiant note at intervals, the last time 
with exultant vigor as the waters were slowly receding. Locomotive 1309, a 
fifty-ton eight-wheeler, stood in its place, smoke curling from its stack, steam 
issuing from the safety-valve, and driftwood heaped up to the top of the head- 
light, the glass in which, by a queer fantasy of the flood, was not cracked. 
Not far away Locomotive 477, its tender tipped over and a mass of refuse 



76 



THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 



surrounding it, headed the train which sustained the least damage. The 
mighty arms were powerless and the fiery bosom was chilled. Engineer 
Henry, who escaped to the hills, could not restrain a sigh at the sight of his 
giant pet, feeble and useless in the midst of a waste that so much needed the 
assistance of the strong to bring order out of chaos. 




RAILROAD WRECKAGE AT EAST CONEMAUGH. 



A representative of the Associated Press, who had occupied a seat in the 
second section, lucidly described some of the incidents that came under his 
own observation : 

' ' One gentleman, who was ill, had his berth made up and retired, although advised not to 
do so. Soon the cry came that the water in the reservoir had broken the barrier and was sweep- 
ing down the valley. Instantly there was a panic and a rush for the mountain-side. Children 
were carried and women assisted by a few who kept cool heads. It was a race for life. There 
was seen the black head of the flood. With this in view, even the weak found wings for their 
feet. No words can describe the terror that filled every breast at the power exhibited by the 
flood. The round-house, locomotives and two-score dwellings were swept away in a minute. 
The locomotive of one of the trains was struck by a house and demolished. The side of another 
house stopped in front of a locomotive and served as a shield. The rear car of the mail train 
swung around in the rear of the second section of the express and turned over on its side. 
Three men were observed standing on it as it floated. Will they trust to it or the still upright 
Pullman cars ? The couplings broke and the car moved out upon the waters. As it would roll 



WRECK OF THE DA Y EXPRESS. J 7 

the men would shift their position ; the situation was desperate and they were given up for lost. 
Two or three men men seized ropes and ran along the mountain-side to give them aid. The 
men escaped over some driftwood as their car was carried near the bank. It is believed there 
were women and children inside the car. Of course they were drowned." 

A Connecticut passenger on the second section, Mr. E. Wilmot, of New 
Haven, recounted his experience briefly : 

" When the conductor warned us, I rushed to where my wife and baby were. Grasping the 
child, I called to my wife to follow me. The water was like a huge wall, not five hundred feet 
from us. Everybody jumped It was every man for himself and God for us all. I ran with 
my child in my arms and my wife close behind. I came to a small creek that had become 
swollen, and jumped over that ; then I looked for my wife. When she got to the creek she 
hesitated at first, but a man behind her called out, ' Jump, jump, for heaven's sake !' That 
determined her, and she jumped and cleared the creek. The water was then close upon us, but 
we succeeded in getting away. One of the ladies that was lost came from the South. There 
were also two old ladies, both of whom were drowned. I lost all my baggage, but am perfectly 
satisfied to let it go. Thank God, I have my wife and child ! The way in which the water 
hurled that train to destruction was terrible." 

Particularly touching was the fate of Miss Paulson and Miss Bryan, two 
clever, popular society girls. Both had attended a wedding at Pittsburgh the 
previous day and were on their way to New York. They wore graceful corsage 
bouquets of roses and presented some of the flowers to Cconductor Bell a few 
minutes before the train was overwhelmed, for his kindness to them at Cone- 
maugh. Miss Paulson was reading the novel entitled "Miss Lou," and Miss 
Bryan was looking out of the window at the instant the alarm sounded. The 
two girls sprang to the door, but turned back for their rubbers. . Fatal decis- 
ion ! The cruel waters dashed over the car, bearing the fair mardens to their 
doom. Miss Bryan's remains were unearthed from the rubbish at the lower end 
of Johnstown and buried, without having been identified. Trinkets taken from 
her person encouraged a hope that the tenant of the unknown grave was the 
missing girl. The body was raised and recognized by friends, who took it to 
Philadelphia. Strenuous efforts failed to discover Miss Paulson for five 
months. On November 4th, in a number of bodies of unknown dead disinter- 
red from Prospect Hill for removal to Grand-View Cemetery, her body was 
identified by her brother and shipped to Pittsburgh. A passenger who sat in 
the seat behind the young ladies related these facts : 

"When the rush of water came Miss Paulson and Miss Bryan did not get out as promptly 
as some of the others. They were followed by Miss Virginia Maloney, of Woodbury, N. J., 
and a female servant of Mr. E. H. McCullough, who, fearing they would not get to the hill which 
some of the passengers had already reached, ran back to one of the cars. From there the servant 
saw the flood catch and carry off both Miss Paulson and Miss Bryan. Miss Maloney did not see 
the'ladies swept away, and she and the servant were afterward rescued from the car, though they 
both had an almost miraculous escape. The conductor had shouted to all in the car to run and 
stop for nothing. He picked up two children and noticed Miss Paulson and Miss Bryan search- 
ing for their overshoes and waterproofs. He again called out, ' Don't wait for anything, ' but the 
moments they lost prevented them from reaching the hill. He, with the children, escaped but a 



78 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. . 

second or two ahead of the flood, which was at his heels After the water had gone down a search 
of the car was made, and it was found that both the waterproofs were missing. Miss Paulson's 
overshoes were also gone, but Miss Bryan's were found." 

Strange destiny ! From the festivities of a marriage-feast to the cold em- 
brace of death and an unknown grave. Then to be exhumed months after- 
wards, recognized and consigned to a tomb bedewed with tears and bedecked 
with flowers. 

Mr. William Schreder, of Newark, N. J., furnished graphic details : 

"The parlor car was filled when I got aboard the train, and a seat was assigned me in the 
sleeper at the rear. Among the passengers were several ladies. It was raining hard, and we 
whiled away the time reading or watching the river. Very few had any apprehension of 
danger, even after we had been detained at Conemaugh five hours. The tracks where our 
train stopped were fully fourteen feet above the level of the river. A large number of freight 
and passenger cars and locomotives stood near us and strung up the road a considerable dis- 
tance. Such a possibility as the carrying away of a train on the great Pennsylvania railroad 
was not seriously entertained by anybody. About four o'clock, two colored porters went 
through the sleeper within a short time of each other, looking and acting rather excited. I 
asked the first one what was the matter, and he replied that he did not know. When the sec- 
ond one came along, I asked him if the reservoir had given way, and he answered that he 
thought it had. I put down my book, stepped out to the hind platform, and was horrified at the 
sight which met my gaze up the valley. It seemed as though a forest was coming down upon 
us. A great wall of water was roaring and grinding, so thickly studded with trees from 
the mountain side that it resembled a gigantic avalanche. I lingered but a moment, for the 
mortal danger electrified me. That instant I saw an engine lifted bodily off the tracks and 
thrown backward into the whirlpool, houses crushed in the flash of an eye, and the noise re- 
sembling incessant thunder. I shouted to the ladies in the car, three of them alone, to fly for 
their lives, and helped them out. Two others jumped the ditch, through which the water was 
running swiftly, but the third, a heavy lady, a missionary on her way to a foreign post, hesitated. 
That delay cost her life. While I was holding out my hand and urging her to jump, the 
waters swept her into the torrent. This same instant an engine was pitched from the track 
into the ditch at my feet. The water was about my knees as I clambered up the hill. Ten 
seconds later, when I looked back, it was surging and boiling ten feet deep over the track I had 
just left. The rush of waters lasted three-quarters of an hour. We stood spell-bound in 
the* rain, beholding the ruin no human agency could avert, and then secured shelter until 
Saturday morning in a house high on the hill-side." 

John Ross, an elderly gentleman and helpless cripple, finding he blocked 
the way of a lady, threw himself from the car steps to let her pass. As 
she descended to the ground he gave her a plaintive, yearning look, which 
time nor distance is likely to erase, and exclaimed, " God help you!" The 
water was at hand. A trainman carried Ross a little way, but had to drop him 
and run to avoid sharing his fate. The poor cripple had in him the stuff of 
which heroes are made. His bod}' was recovered. The lady declined to give 
her name when describing this melancholy episode. 

Mrs. Elijah Halford, wife of President Harrison's private secretary, and 
her daughter were returning to Washington from a visit to friends in Indian- 
apolis. The colored porter assisted the ladies in their flight from the car. 



WRECK OF THE DA Y EXPRESS. ?g 

For his timely services he was rewarded with a nice situation in the national 
capital. The story that Mrs. Halford was the lady for whom Ross dropped 
from the car platform is untrue. She was in another coach and knew nothing 
of the incident. 

Mrs. M. J. Blaisdell, of Pelican Rapids, Minn., dubbed "The Minnesota 
Blizzard" from getting a bill through Congress in ten days, was also bound 
for Washington. Narrating her adventures next day, she said : 

" I was anxious to know if one of the lady passengers who begged me to go out with her 
had escaped. I found three ladies in search of me. We all went to the improvised morgue 
together, but could not find her there. The sight was a distressing one. The faces of those 
taken from the water were marked with bruises, caused by coming in contact with the debris, 
which covered not only the surface, but the depth of the flood. I have in my possession a 
little baby's shoe, which I found after the flood had subsided, which I purpose treasuring as a 
relic. I had lost everything but my little satchel and lunch basket, to which I held on witn a 
grip born of desperation. In the midst of my excitement I hoisted my parasol over my head, 
as it was raining hard. With this paraphernalia I landed in the ditch waist deep. My clothes 
were in a horrible condition from the mud and sand with which they had become saturated 
during my struggles in the water. A change of clothing was necessary and I asked for the 
loan of some, until those I had on could be washed and dried out. There was wonderful 
stick-to-ativeness in that mud. as it took five pails of water to rinse it out before being put to 
dry. I got a change of garments, but they were sadly short for a person of my stature, evidently 
being those of a 16-year-old girl. In this costume I cut a quaint figure, but why be choice of 
dress under such dreadful circumstances ? Drenched to the skin, if was ' any port in a storm. ' 

" My quarters were changed from the house I first entered. About the stove were gath- 
ered all that could conveniently stand around it, warming and drying themselves, and I had to 
go into another room and change my clothing, standing in water. I went back into the room 
and got a seat at the stove. Mrs. Halford and her daughter were among the company. At the 
time I did not know who she was, but subsequently she made herself known to me. When I 
went into the outer room to dress I threw off my large double black shawl. It was not wet, as 
the parasol had protected my shoulders from the rain. When I returned, some one had 
thrown it around Mrs. Halford. She saw my condition and that I needed it. I did not like 
to take the warm shawl from her shoulders, for she was as pale as a corpse and almost dazed 
from the terrible experience through which she had so recently passed. She appeared cold 
and faint, but my own condition was such that I had to cover myself as best I could. 

" The outside door of the house had a button on the inside and no latch ; thus, when any 
one went out, the door would stand open and, therefore, the cold blew right on Mrs. Halford. 
I tried to keep the door shut, but it was hard work. However, it was at least a place 
of shelter, and we were gratified that we escaped with our lives. At two o'clock Saturday 
afternoon the team came and we began our journey of eighteen miles up the Allegheny 
mountain toward Ebensburg. The mules looked tired and fagged out. The roads were in a 
terrible condition in places from the deluge of rain. Ebensburg reached, it was not long until 
we were whirled to the goodly Mountain City. " 

Mrs. Tarbell clung to her children, one of whom was clasped in her arms 
when the bodies were dug from the refuse above the railroad bridge at Johns- 
town. Mr. Tarbell has sued for heavy damages, alleging that holding the 
train at Conemaugh was a needless risk. 

Mrs. Mary A. Swineford, of New Berlin, Pa., and her daughter-in-law met 



8o 



THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 



the same fate. The body of the former was seen by two ladies, who stood on 
the high bank, near the railroad bridge at Johnstown, watching the workmen 
explode dynamite to clear off the wreckage. Probably the concussion loosened 
the body, which was almost concealed by boards and rubbish. The younger 
Mrs. Swineford was not found for four months, when her body was taken from 
a cellar in Millville. 

Cyrus H. Schick, a prominent manufacturer of Reading, was returning 
from a protracted tour in the west for the benefit of his health, with his wife 
and her sister, Miss Eliza Stinson, Norristown. Mrs. Schick gave this account : 

' ' Our party was coming east, filled with joyful expectations of meeting dear friends, from 
whom we had been separated for three months. Mr. Schick had telegraphed to Reading, an- 
nouncing our return. We spoke a great deal 
of our long trip and the great benefit which 
Mr. Schick's health had received by our trav- 
els in the west. When the train reached 
Johnstown we found the whole town in ex- 
citement. One railroad track had already 
been washed away by the flood, and the train 
moved slowly to East Conemaugh. We re- 
mained together in the Pullman coach and saw 
that the danger was very great. From the 
windows of the coach we saw the flood sweep 
away the bridge between Conemaugh and 
Johnstown, and whirl the pieces in a thousand 
directions. When we heard the alarm, we 
made an effort to escape from the cars and flee 
for our lives. When we got upon the plat- 
form, we saw that right in our way was a gully 
filled with water. Mr. Schick and my sister 
were in such haste that they fell headlong 
in the gully. I saw my husband rise, but soon 
lost sight of him in the tumult. The scene beg- 
gared description. Houses and persons were 
swept along in the flood. I saw that I would 
not be able to cross the gully, and rushed back into the car, closed all the doors and found my- 
self to be the only occupant. This was my refuge and here I remained until midnight, when 
I was rescued and taken to the house of Train Dispatcher Wilkinshaw, where I was very kindly 
cared for until the arrival of friends." 

Mr. Schick's body was not found for ten days, despite the most active work 
of his brother and business associates. Miss Stinson was recognized in aheap 
of two hundred unclaimed corpses about to be buried on Prospect Hill, and 
taken to Norristown for interment. The Schick mansion had been decorated 
handsomely to welcome the return of the travelers, but the preparations were in 
vain, for the master of the luxurious home was conveyed to it in a coffin. 

The rescued passengers were driven co Ebensburg, whence they jour- 
neyed by rail to Altoona. There the railroad company quartered them, with 




CYRUS H. SCHICK. 



WRECK OF THE DA Y EXPRESS. 8 I 

six hundred others from different trains, in the hotels. Telegraphic commu- 
nication was cut off and the anxiety of relatives and friends for tidings cannot 
be depicted. Meanwhile the grossest exaggerations circulated. Not until the 
wires could be restored to service were anxieties relieved or apprehensions 
confirmed. Seven of the involuntary guests at Altoona had secured passages 
for Europe and others had pressing business engagements. How their plans 
were disarranged may be imagined. Mrs. George W. Childs, of Philadelphia! 
and two or three distinguished ladies, were reported lost. Fortunately the 
limited train, on which they were going east, reached Altoona safely. It had 
been stopped below South Fork in the forenoon, on account of a washout at 
Lilly's station. Towards noon the fears of the station-master at South Fork 
induced him to urge the conductor to have the train pulled over the bridge. 
Orders from the train-dispatcher could not be had, owing to breaks in the tele- 
graph lines, and the conductor at first refused to assume the responsibility of 
moving the train. Consenting at length, it was drawn up a mile, crossing the 
bridge at noon and getting to Altoona in the evening. This providential 
movement saved the Limited from sharing the fate of the Day Express. 

Mr. George, of Lilly, who was on the first section, and eight others left 
East Conemaugh at 4:25, driving to Ebensburg. They had a bundle of dis- 
patches for friends of the passengers and brought the first news of the disaster 
to the county-seat. The citizens refused to credit the report that trains had 
been washed away, towns expunged as a child would wipe a pictured village off 
a slate, miles of road-bed removed, the course of the Conemaugh diverted 
and hundreds of people swept to destruction. It was too horrible to contem- 
plate such a calamity as possible in th'is age of steam and electricity. All night 
the telegraph operator, Miss Lloyd, kept sending messages to accessible points 
— messages calculated to stir the public heart to its utmost depths, although 
half the sad truth was not known for days thereafter. 

The enormous resources of the company were at once put into requisition 
to reopen the railroad. From South Fork to Sang Hollow, four miles west of 
Johnstown, the tracks and all the bridges except one were wiped out. In the 
gap above Johnstown the water seized tracks covered with trains, tore them to 
pieces and dispersed freight, buildings, cars and engines over miles of territory. 
At East Conemaugh it altered the course of the river and for two miles anni- 
hilated the road-bed itself. With the strange fatality which made it every- 
where the attendant of the flood, fire swelled the frightful damage. Thousands 
of men worked day and night, yet it was two weeks before trains could run 
through. Consider that the traffic of the strongest railroad corporation on 
earth, with unlimited men and money at its disposal, was effectually blocked 
for thirteen days, and an idea can be formed of the character and magnitude 
of the ravages. 

Articles belonging to the passengers of the Day Express were picked up 



82 



THE STOR Y OF JOHNSTO WN. 



in Johnstown and fifty miles down the river. One trunk contained a soft braid 
of golden hair, several photographs, tender letters and a half-dozen rich dresses. 
Some of the bodies of the missing were not recovered. Three or four may have 
been buried among the "unknown," or burned at the railroad bridge, or 
floated out of mortal sight to be seen no more until the Judgment Day. The 
doom of the unfortunate travelers, who came to a tragic end amid surround- 
ings peculiarly sad, must always rank with the most pathetic and startling 
episodes of a catastrophe unequalled in the nineteenth century. Let some re- 
cording angel, like Uncle Toby's, drop a tear to their memory, or preserve 
them from Oblivion, the gaunt Philistine that sooner or later conquers us all. 




WHERE MRS. E. SWINEFORD WAS FOUND. 



VIII. 



WOODVALE ANNIHILATED. 



Pretty Town Blotted Out of Existence — The Struggle for Life — Remarkable 
Rescue of a Family — A Frail Bridge and its Solitary Occupant — One Taken 
and Two Saved — The Woolen Mill Partially Wrecked — Total Destruction of 
the Gautier Works — Three Hundred People Perish — Some of the Dead — An 
Aged Couple Go Down to Death Together — Happy Homes Desolated — Affecting 
Details — Not a House Left in the Borough Proper. 



" There came o'er the perturbed waves, 
Loud-crashing, terrible, a sound that made 
Either shore tremble, as if of a wind 
Impetuous, from conflicting vapors sprung, 
That 'gainst some forest driving all his might 
Plucks off the branches, beats them down and hurls 
Afar; then, onward passing, proudly sweeps 
His whirlwind rage." — Dante. 



EVENTY-THREE lives and a million dollars 
in property had been sacrificed to the devour- 
ing Moloch. Far from appeasing him, this 
costly offering merely whetted his ravenous 
appetite. The culminating horror was to 
come at Johnstown and its suburbs. The 
hand falters, the eye dims and the heart throbs 
painfully over the grievous desolation. From 
East Conemaugh and Franklin, renewing its 
energy at every step, the flood swooped upon 
Woodvale. The valley narrowed and the 
water reared its frowning crest higher as it ad- 
vanced, stripping the earth bare in its vindictive passion. An iron bridge and 
a dozen frame dwellings, which dared dispute its right of way, were contempt- 

J5 




WRECKAGE NEAR WOODVALE. 



g^ THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

uously brushed aside. Nothing was too small to escape its notice or too large 
for it to attack. Locomotives turned somersaults, and houses played leap- 
frog in the bosom of the merciless current, which churned them into battered 
iron and splintered wood to strew its trail with wreckage. Havoc ruled the 
hour and chaos was monarch of the day. 

Three hundred pleasant homes sheltered the eleven hundred residents of 
Woodvale, bordering Franklin on the south and spreading over the flats from 
Conemaugh Creek to a commanding hill on the northwest. Maple avenue, the 
principal thoroughfare, was lined with pretty homes and traversed by street 
cars. An iron bridge on the northern end communicated with East Cone- 
maugh. On this bridge Burgess Howard C. Evans, Dr. Duncan and a half- 
dozen neighbors were discussing the high water, which had led to the closing 
of the local factories at noon. The roar of the flood tearing down the creek 
arrested their attention. They understood intuitively that the South-Fork 
dam had burst, and ran to rescue their families. The Burgess sprinted three 
squares with the speed of a racer who realizes that the preservation of his 
loved ones depends upon his fleetness. As he rushed into his house on Beach 
street the oldest boy, a lad of ten summers, called from up-stairs : 
" Oh, papa, the bridge is coming down with lots of stuff ! " 

The father seized three of the youngest of his seven children, Mrs. Evans 
grabbed up two, the oldest two trotted behind and the party scampered by the 
rear door for the hill across the railroad track. The waters were almost at their 
heels and delay meant death. One of the babies dropped from the father's 
arms on the track, but a woman caught it up and the flight continued. A rod 
from the foot of the hill another fell. Mr. Evans deposited his load on the 
bank, ran back for the little fellow and waded safely to the shore. He was 
the only one of the group on the bridge whose entire family escaped. Dr. 
Duncan lost his wife, and each of the others was sorely bereft. Mrs. Dun- 
can's body was buried among the unknown. A published description led her 
husband to disinter the remains, designated by a certain number. He iden- 
tified his wife by the clothing and the hair, and she was laid to rest in the 
cemetery. 

An extensive woolen mill, employing three hundred girls, stood near the 
center of the borough. Against its solid brick walls the waters charged sav- 
agely. Thousands of tons of flotsam, accumulated on the way from Lake 
Conemaugh, dealt the mill a staggering blow. It was an unequal battle, and 
the upper end of the building surrendered with a terrific crash. Fortunately 
the girls had quit work at twelve o'clock and vacated the premises. The 
logs, trees, houses and rubbish wedged in a lump, saving two-thirds of the 
mill and the flouring mill beside it from total extinction. The resentful waters 
splashed the third story, but could not budge the impenetrable mass which 
checked their ferocious assault. 



WOOD VALE ANNIHILA TED. 



85 



Superintendent John Gruber, his brother Lewis, Watchman Coldabaugh, 
and another whose name was not learned were in the woolen mill. As portions 
of the. mill were swept away the men retreated to the southern part. When 
first warned they were on the second floor, and before they had time to gain 
the stairway it was washed away, compelling them to remain where they were, 




WOODVALE WOOLEN MILL AND FLOURING MILL. 



in constant peril. Two daughters of Gust McHugh, the engineer, of East 
Conemaugh — Effie and Cora — were saved at the mill by these active men, 
who threw a rope to them as they approached on the driftwood and pulled 
them in through a window. 

In front of the woolen mill an iron bridge spanned the railroad tracks, the 
ends resting on stone piers of medium size. Wooden approaches on stout 
trestles connected it with either side, affording a convenient foot-way for per- 
sons desiring to cross the valley. Dreaming not of danger, forty or fifty people 
leaned on the railings to observe the rising waters, which had inundated the 
flats. The clouds of smoke-like mist and the noise of crunching houses 
admonished them to seek the hills with the utmost dispatch. Councilman 
B. F. Quigg was the last to cross. The deluge cut down the approaches at a 
stroke, feeding them to the surging billow. By an extraordinary freak the 
iron span was spared, a skeleton network of rods and braces fluttering in 



86 



THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 



mid-air. Bridges many times heavier had nourished the demolisher, yet this 
frail structure, built with no thought that a flood would ever try to lay it low, 
emerged unharmed. Upon it perched a man, an unwilling witness of the 
inevitable plunge of many a doomed victim. Who he was nobody knew, as he 
crept off in the darkness after the waters retreated. Imprisoned there for 
hours, Robinson Crusoe on his desert island was not more isolated. Around 




THE SPAN OF THE WOODVALE BRIDGE THAT WITHSTOOD THE FLOOD. 



him the heaving torrent hissed and fretted. No living thing was visible in the 
deepening twilight, for the town had glided away. Solitary as the Ancient 
Mariner, "on a wide wide sea," 

" So lonely 'twas that God himself 
Scarce seemed there to be." 

George Bailey, a youth named Fittinger, and Ida Loudenstein, of Frank- 
lin, took refuge on a pile of pig-iron which had lain for years close to the 
bridge above the wire mill. The girl was borne off, but the two men retained 
their places on the metal bars all night. The bridge was snuffed out at a 
breath and the waters surrounded the involuntary prisoners, whose suspense 
must have been intolerable. 

Nerved by despair, about sixty persons clutched the cars of a freight 
train against which they had been driven, opposite the wire-mills. They re- 



WOOD VALE ANNIHILA TED. 



»7 



tained their hold until the swelling tide overturned the cars, loosening 
their grasp and drowning all but nine of the hapless unfortunates. Among 
the rescued were workmen, two young girls and a boy. Their escape from the 
fate that overtook their companions was one of the surprises of a flood mark- 
ed by many curious features. 

The Gautier Wire Mills and Steel Works, part of them in Woodvale and 
part in Conemaugh Borough, were soon licked up, the six or eight immense 




WHAT REMAINED OF WOODVALE ABOVE THE WOOLEN MILL. 

departments furnishing a morsel of which the flood made speedy work. Their 
demolition was complete, not one brick tarrying above the stone foundations. 
Heaps of sand entombed what machinery the ruthless waters did not thrust 
from its moorings and grind to powder. Large rolls of barbed wire entangled 
with the rubbish and wound. tightly about scores of the four hundred men, wo- 
men and children who by this time were fighting for life in the turgid current. 
Held in the inflexible grip of the wire, fastened by timbers, or sinking from 
exhaustion, young and old met death in forms unutterably horrible. Clinging 
to logs or fragments of buildings, some ran foul of obstructions which crushed 
them into distorted, shapeless corpses. Others swam or floated long distances 
only to be pulled under at last. Children were wrenched from the arms of 
agonized parents, who perished in their turn. According to the closest enume- 



88 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

ration, Woodvale lost three hundred and fourteen of its one thousand and 
forty-three inhabitants. The victims included the following : 

William Beck, wife and two sons. 

Kate and Minnie Bracken. 

Mrs. Martha Brennen and five children. 

Mrs. Mollie Burkhart and three children. 

Peter Brown and five children. 

Mrs. George E. Barbour and three children 

James Baker, wife and baby. 

Edward Barker, wife and two children. 

Frank Bowman, wife and two children. 

Mrs. Mary Brennen and four children. 

Alfred Blair, wife and four children. 

Mrs. Nancy Barley, mother-in-law and child. 

John A, and W. M. Conrad. 

Mrs. Aaron Davis and three children 

Mrs. Ellen Early and daughter. 

Mrs. Sarah Eldridge and daughter. 

Evan B. Evans, wife and daughter. 

Mrs. Mary A. Eck and two children. 

Mrs. M. Foster and daughter. 

Mrs. George Geddes and two children. 

W. E. Hoopes, wife and two children. 

Mrs. Mary E. Heidenthall and six children. 

Thomas Jones and three children. 

Richard Jones, wife and three children. 

Mrs. Josephine Johns and three children. 

Mary J., Joseph, Anna, Ernest, Harry and James May hew 

Lizzie and Robert Miller. 

Mrs. Robert N. Nixon and three children. 

Mrs. H. Oyler and child 

Joseph L. Potter, wife and daughter. 

Mrs. Elizabeth Reynolds and daughter 

James M. Rosensteel, wife, daughter and son. 

Mrs. Mary Ream and three children. 

Joseph Schry and wife. 

Mrs. Gotthold Sechmanns, daughter and son. 

Mrs. Alice Smith and two children. 

Joseph Schaeffer, wife and two daughters. 

Mrs. John Snyder and four children. 

Mrs. Maggie Smith and four children. 

John W. Stufft, wife and three children. 

Mrs. John C. Tucker and two daughters. 

Edward M. Thomas and wife. 

Edward Thomas, wife and five children. 

William Tross, wife and six children. 

E. Vincent Webber and wife. 

Very sad was the case of John Snyder. Crazed by grief, on the last Sat- 
urday evening in July he went to Bantley & Frohniser's store, in Johnstown, to 



WOODVALE ANNIHILATED. 89 

purchase a revolver. Turning as if to go out, after leaving the counter he fired 
four shots, one of them taking effect in his right temple, causing instant death. 
The people in the store crowded around the prostrate form, but the spirit had 
fled and John Snyder was a corpse. The poor fellow had lost his wife and four 
children by the deluge. He went to Ohio but could not stay away from the 
scene of his sorrow. Returning a week before the fatal act that ended his 
career, he tried to work. The excitement was too much for him to bear. 
Thoughts of his lost family dwelt with him night and day, and reason gave 
way beneath the strain. He was thirty-five years old, an industrious working- 
man and a member of the Conemaugh fire company. A world of tragedy is 
comprised in his mournful experience. 

Joseph Schry and wife, aged respectively 86 and 76 years, were the oldest 
couple in the borough. Dwelling happily for six decades and meeting the 
same fate, not severed even by death, aptly might they appropriate the well- 
known words of Burns : 

"John Anderson, my jo, John 

We clamb the hill thegither ; 
And mony a canty day, John, 

We've had wi' anither ;. 
Now we maun totter down, John, 

But hand in hand we'll go, 
And sleep thegither at the foot, 

John Anderson, my jo." 

Mrs. Alice Smith's youngest child was a baby of six weeks. Dozens of 
children in the above list ranged in age from three months to twelve or four- 
teen years. Youth and innocence, decrepitude and depravity, mingled in one 
common tomb. 

The bodies of Evan B. Evans, his wife and his daughter have not been 
found. Thomas Robinson, a brother-in-law, who was in the Evans house at 
the time, was also drowned. His body was recovered at the Millville hose- 
house. A boarder named Held got out of the house at the company store in 
Johnstown. The mother and daughter were alive at that point. He begged 
Mrs. Evans to leave the house with him, but she refused and the daughter 
would not go without her. Mr. Held got on a roof that was sweeping by. 
A moment later the gas tanks heaved up and smashed the house. Held 
went to the stone bridge and was rescued. Thomas T. Davis and wife, a son- 
in-law and daughter, who lived a short distance above the Evans home on 
Maple avenue, saved themselves by running to the hill. A tramp who had 
been given bread at a house next door, helped Mrs. Davis carry her three chil. 
dren, Mr. Davis being away. The Davises went to Ebensburg, where their 
boy of three years died. Mrs. Davis, with womanly forethought, locked the 
door of her house when she deserted it. She still has the key — all of the house 
that is left. 

R. G. Wickersham and a friend were riding their horses about town to 
take a view of the high water. Having reached Woodvale, they were about to 



9° 



THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 



return, when Mr. Wickersham's horse refused to cross the submerged bridge. 
His friend reached Conemaugh Borough, but concluded to put his horse in a 
stable in Woodvale and wade to the hill. Before he had proceeded far the 

water began to rise rapidly. 
Wickersham rode to a tel- 
egraph pole and climbed to 
the top. In a few moments 
the great body of water car- 
ried away the pole. Its 
tenant, who had deemed 
himself secure in his lofty 
retreat, was drowned. 

The body of a woman, 
supposed to have been a 
resident of Woodvale, was 
found in a tree below Sang 
Hollow, two days after the 
flood. Her face was dis- 
colored and her clothing 
hanging in rags. Wedged 
between a heavy branch 
and the trunk of the tree, 
twelve feet above the 
ground, her removal was a 
task of some difficulty. 
The remains were put in a 
plain coffin and buried at 
Nineveh. 

Aaron Davis strove heroically to save his family. Twice pushed under 
water by heavy timbers, he swam from the attic of his house, grasped two of 
his children and managed to land on the hill below the Point in Johnstown. 
His wife and three children were drowned. Four anvils from his blacksmith 
shop, planted deep in the sand eighty rods down the street, sum up what 
remained of his property. 

A fair young woman, who lost home and husband at Woodvale, came trip- 
ping down the steps of Prospect Hill, one morning the next week, and turned 
up toward the stone bridge. She passed the railroad station, where the under- 
takers were embalming the dead, and walked slowly a few rods farther. There 
she stopped and danced a few steps, in the presence of a small crowd. She 
raised her hands above her head and sang, became quiet, then suddenly burst 
into a frenzied fit of weeping and beat her forehead with her hands. She tore 
her dress, which was in rags. "I shall go crazy," she yelled, "If they do 




A woman's dead body in a tree. 



WOOD WALE A NNIHILA TED. 



9 1 



not find his body." Her mind was already shattered. •• He was a good man." 
she went on, while the onlookers listened pityingly. "I loved him, and he 
loved me." "Where is he?" she yelled again, •• I must find him." And she 
started at the top of her speed down the track toward the river. Some men 
caught her. She struggled for a few moments and then fainted. The de- 
mented creature was a bride of but two months. 

An aged Woodvale woman, who was rescued alive from the attic in her 
house, had floated from Maple avenue to the mouth of the Conemaugh. Her 




ALL THAT WAS LEFT OK WoODYALE BELOW THE WOOLEN MILL. 



experience was terrible. She saw hundreds of men, women and children float- 
ing down the torrent to meet their death, some praying, while others had be- 
come raving maniacs. 

Words cannot lend impressiveness to the simple statement that only nine 
or ten families in Woodvale were not deprived of a father, mother, brother or 
sister. How much of anguish and bereavement this involves ! Two hundred 
and fifty-five habitations were swept awav. leaving net cue house in Woodvale 
proper. A fringe of thirty-three buildings lingered along the foot of the hill, 
in the extension of the town beyond the railroad. The rest had been drawn 
into the dizzv waters, which rubbed off the tiniest atoms of earth, leaving the 



92 



THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 



naked rock to point out the site of the eliminated suburb. On the south 
side of the creek, the row of tenements above the tannery bridge, the brewer)- 
and a couple of shanties are standing. The street-car sheds and stables were 
swept away, with all the cars, eighty-nine horses and thirty tons of hay The 
strip of land lying on the north side, known as "Clark's Grove," was covered 
with sand from two to six feet in depth. The Conemaugh changed its course 
and, dividing into two branches, so continued to the lower end of the town, 
where it reunited. 

Woodvale had ceased to be! 




I&OFORD 




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IX. 



THREE THOUSAND PERSONS PERISH. 



The Death-Dealing Wave Moving Onward — Its Accelerated Speed and Resistless 
Power — Peculiarities of the Advancing Mass — Mowing Down Entire Streets 
and Drowning the Inmates of Hundreds of Houses — Devastation in Conemaugh 
Borough, Johnstown, Kernville, Millville and Cambria — No Warning and No 
Time to Fly — Miles of Wreckage — Appalling Loss of Life and Property — The 
Saddest Desolation Human Eyes Ever Beheld. 



' Shrieking they perished . . . age, nor grade, nor rank, 
Nor all they loved, revered or deemed divine 
Found help or rescue ; unredeemed they drank 
Their cup of horrors to the dregs." — Dr. W. Beattie. 



[ERRORS multiplied as the death-dealing wave moved onward, 
its momentum accelerating and its power for evil extending 
each instant. Hurricane, avalanche and deluge seemed to 
concentrate their malignant energies for the utter extinc- 
tion of Johnstown, which the waters reached at 4:07. 
An hour had been spent traversing the fourteen miles of 
contracted valley from the dam to the spot where the 
greatest ill was to be wrought. The velocity varied. 
Less rapid at first, its pace was tremendous at East 
Conemaugh and Woodvale. Thence the torrent 
had a straight course and traveled with increased 
speed. Whistles shrieked a brief intimation that 
something was wrong. People looked up the valley, 
saw a black mass rushing toward them and tried to 
run up stairs. The water entered the houses and 
mounted the stairs almost as fast as the inmates 
did. Railroad men, who saw the wave from the tops of cars and from the hills, 
say that the vast cargo of trees, houses, earth and wreckage carried with it 
caused a short halt several times on the way from South Fork. Coming to a 

95 




SINKING TO RISE NO MORE. 



96 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

place where the channel narrowed suddenly, the mass of timbers and trees 
would crowd and jam and slacken up. Behind the waters would back until 
the pressure forced out the mountainous blockade with an invincible push. 
Foreman Kelly, of the Pennsylvania Railroad, reported one of these stoppages 
above Conemaugh. The water was driven back and the spray rose fifty feet. 
The surface of the moving dam surged and boiled for a moment. Then the 
mass let go and tore down the valley, ravaging East Conemaugh and Franklin 
and exterminating Woodvale. It struck Johnstown squarely in the centre, 
crossed the heart of the town, plunged over Stony Creek, and ransacked the 
South Side before its impetus was again checked. Spectators on Prospect Hill 
fancied the middle of the stupendous wave was ten or fifteen feet higher than 
the outer edges. 

This series of checks is the only explanation that accounts for the time oc- 
cupied in the passage from the dam. The speed greatly exceeded fourteen 
miles an hour when the wave was not impeded by unusual obstructions. Had 
there been no holding up, the distance would have been covered in thirty min- 
utes, although the force could have been hardly more destructive. The roll- 
ing, grinding movement hurled logs and other objects far above the average 
elevation of the surface, as if the wave were endowed with life. Ahead of it 
a phenomenal wind was noticed, which actually shoved houses from their 
foundations before the water touched them. In some degree at least this 
clears up what puzzled some of the eye-witnesses. They could not under- 
stand why no water appeared in front of the moving mass. The front was a 
squirming aggregation of trees, rocks, buildings, timbers, cars, earth, grass and 
everything picked up on the route, with a lake pushing behind it until the 
valley widened at Woodvale. There the water blended with the load it had 
collected and the whole mass, without regard to the ordinary channel of the 
river, poured down upon the unsuspecting inhabitants of a half-dozen popu- 
lous towns. 

Through Conemaugh Borough, joining the lower end of Woodvale and 
stretching away southward, the waters cut a clean swath, repeating the tragic 
scenes just enacted. The northern corner was eradicated. Brick buildings 
were shaved off to the earth's surface, and frames jammed into an indistin- 
guishable mass of ruin. Roland's grocery, a two-story brick, withstood and 
helped divide the torrent. A moving rampart, bristling with the spoils 
gathered on its remorseless way, mowed down Railroad, Jackson, Feeder, Clin- 
ton and Bedford streets clear to Stony Creek. Stores, churches and dwellings, 
whether of wood or brick, succumbed unresistingly. Blocks of buildings 
smashed against each other, the swishing foe rending them asunder to aug- 
ment the fearful burden of a wasted district. Up to the third stories the waters 
dashed, either drowning the helpless inmates or setting them adrift in the 
ghastly maelstrom. Escape was practically impossible, even had time been 



THREE THOUSAND PERSONS PERISH. 



97 



afforded to reach the streets, which the excessive rains submerged in the morn- 
ing. Residents of the lower grounds had been driven in the forenoon to their 
upper floors or to the houses of friends on higher sites, Warning there was 
none, except the blowing of a whistle, the momentary tolling of a bell, and 
the din of the tumultuous crash. The whistle and the bell were hushed forever 
ere their echoes died away. Pure fabrications are the tales of horsemen 
riding along the streets and shouting to the people to fly. There was no 
opportunity for such an achievement. All forenoon wagons and boats had 
been hauling the occupants from the houses on low grounds, in many of which 
the water ascended nearly to the ceiling hours before the dam let go. Stony 
Creek for a time rose eighteen inches an hour, breaking the record, and Cone- 
maugh Creek was not much slower. Some families moved out ; numbers set 
their furniture on the second floor, remaining with it ; others secured their 
effects as best they could and deserted them, leaving in carriages, on horseback 
or by rafts for places deemed safe. Great risks were incurred in rescuing these 
people from their unpleasant predicament, one instance resulting fatally. 
Joseph Ross, driver for Strayer's planing mill, was riding a mule in assisting 
to extricate persons shut in by the freshet. 
The animal walked over the foundation 
wall of the Cambria Iron Company' s new 
store-building, which the flood had cov- 
ered, and fell into the excavation for the 
cellar. Two men on horseback saw the 
accident, but were unable to save the 
drowning man, whom a widow and five 
children survived. The mule swam to 
dry land. This shows the folly of the 
report that daring fellows rode through 
the streets of Johnstown shouting that 
the dam had burst and calling on the 
people to flee. The only riders were a 
bevy of sportive youths who wished to 
see how the town looked under water and 
did not mind a wetting, should their 
horses have to swim occasionally. 

The bridge at Poplar street started 
down Stony Creek at eleven o'clock, fol- 
lowed shortly by the one at Cambria. 

By noon Main, Washington, Franklin, Locust, Clinton, Bedford and the streets 
above were submerged from two to eight feet. At three o'clock the town set- 
tled down to make the best of a dreary situation. Night was approaching, the 
electric plant and the gas works were deluged, and the prospect was gloomy as 




THE HULBERT HOUSE ON FRIDAY FORENOON. 



98 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

the Egyptian darkness in Pharaoh's reign. Several boroughs were cut off 
from communication with each other and the world outside. A message from 
the Central Telephone office at 3:15 stated that the South Fork reservoir was 
flowing over the dam, which might give way. The dam had broken by that 
time, but the citizens of Johnstown knew nothing of it until the flood was at 
their doors to absorb their habitations and themselves. 

The eventful minutes wore on, full of fatiguing toil for the few, of increasing 
distress for the many, and of apprehensive excitement for all. From windows 
and roofs were shouted rumors of rescuers and adventurers meeting with haz- 
ardous mishaps. The telephone wires grew hot with the impatient jangle of 
ceaseless inquiries from worried questioners up to their knees or waists in 
water. Dumb were the telegraph instruments, the operators having to seek 
an upper room. Then a roar and a crash — a sudden note of alarm — dying 
groans and falling buildings — and the waters of Lake Conemaugh had pene- 
trated Johnstown, unheralded and unannounced. Pestilence may be checked 
and a conflagration subdued, but this bold enemy was not to be repulsed. The 
inhabitants of Herculaneum and Pompeii, when the showers of burning lava 
descended, had a chance to run. Not so the denizens of the Cambrian towns 
in 1889. Fastened in their houses, rats in a trap were not more defenceless. 
Brick structures melted at the destroying touch and frames tumbled to atoms 
with the celerity of lightning. On sped the wreck from Conemaugh Borough 
and further up the pathway of an invader rapacious as the barbarian 
hordes of fierce Attila. Houses at one end of Johnstown nodded to houses 
in the other, meeting in an embrace that meant irretrievable ruin. The main 
body of the great wave wiped out the district from the Conemaugh back three 
solid squares. Thousands of fellow-beings, drawn into the lashing current be- 
fore they realized what had happened, battled for life against terrific odds. 
Scores were mangled by the timbers they seized desperately. Hundreds 
slipped out of sight as the floors or roofs that floated them split asunder, 
crunched by the palpitating mass. Faces convulsed with anguish were visible 
an instant and then vanished beneath the resentful waters. Eyes upturned to 
heaven in speechless terror as they looked their last on the clouded firmament. 
Husbands and wives, parents and children, kindred and friends, strangers and 
acquaintances parted company in the baleful struggle, the issue of which to 
the majority was death. In five minutes — such minutes as this planet had 
never known since the vessel of gopher-wood landed on the Armenian mount — 
the miles of swift-moving wreckage had struck down every obstacle that ven- 
tured to impede its march from Woodvale to the mouth of Conemaugh Creek. 

Meanwhile part of the wave which ravaged Conemaugh Borough to Stony 
Creek deflected. Breaking through a row of brick buildings on Clinton street, 
it swept down Maine and Locust and hurled a battering ram against the rear 
Tvall of the Methodist church. Failing to budge the sacred edifice, it crossed 



THREE THOUSAND PERSONS PERISH. 



99 



the park like ■ a cyclone and left only one house on the north and west sides of 
the green oasis in the heart of the town. Spreading out to the south, it encir- 
cled and nearly obliterated Vine street, with its tasteful residences and pretty 
gardens, demolishing the public buildings on Market street as it passed. 
The brick school-house near the lower end of Vine braved successfully the 
furious charge. Houses beat at it, timbers pounded it, trees assailed it, stumps 
and bridges attacked it, but the building did not flinch. Through its windows 




ABOVE THE RAILROAD BRIDGE AND CAMBRIA IRON WORKS FIVE DAYS BEFORE THE FLOOD. 

two hundred persons leaped or were dragged from floating sections of their 
homes. Around it houses jumbled in irremediable confusion. Railroad cars, 
heaps of rubbish and piles of broken furniture, sandwiched between acres of 
dwellings and their inmates, went to swell the ruin that choked the streams 
and strewed the Point with measureless wreckage. Dark, stern, all-pitiless, 
pausing not to sit and muse upon the fearful havoc, the central one of the 
three torrents into which the flood had marshalled its forces did its share in 
the destruction. Of each, as of Time, George D. Prentice might have written : 

"In its swift course 

It waved its sceptre o'er the beautiful, 
And they are not. It laid its pallid hand 
Upon the strong man, and the haughty lorm 
Is fallen, and the flashing eye is dim." 

By this time the largest wave had met an insurmountable barrier, opposite 



IOO 



THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 



the mouth of the Conemaugh. The steep bank on the west side of Stony 
Creek towered four hundred feet, a height far too great to be overcome. A 
bridge of massive stone arches, built by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company 
for a double track, spanned the united streams diagonally twenty rods below 
their junction. The wreckage clogged the low arches, one woman first pass- 
ing under them on a heap of stuff, and the water had no outlet. The other 
two waves joined the third and the whole Johnstown valley became a gigantic 




ABOVtS THE RAILROAD BRIDGE AND CAMBRIA IRON WORKS TEN DAYS AFTER THE FLOOD 

whirlpool. The bridge was immovable, although severely tested by water and 
debris piled twenty-five to fifty feet above the ordinary level. A counter-cur- 
rent backed up Stony Creek, bearing with it numerous buildings that had come 
down the Conemaugh a few moments before. Kernville was fearfully scourged, 
its citizens and their homes drifting off by the hundred. Streets were block- 
aded with rubbish and displaced building's, some of them from East Cone- 
maugh and Woodvale. Many a promising life ended in the heaving waters 
or was crushed out by the grinding timbers, which seemed imbued with a 
malicious propensity to kill or maim whoever fell in their way. Up to Mox- 
ham, three miles from the railroad bridge, the waters ebbed. Then they 
began to recede, for the baffled whirlpool at the Point had found vent by tear- 
ing out a huge chunk of the railroad embankment that formed the eastern ap- 



THREE THOUSAND PERSONS PERISH. IOI 

proach to the stone bridge. Stony Creek lowered rapidly, in its haste to aid 
the cruel work yet to be done in order to fulfil the task of the revengeful ele- 
ment. Thus a host of unwilling voyagers performed the journey three times, 
going down to the Point with the first wave, back with the counter -current 
and returning with the receding torrent, which deposited portions of its bur- 
den at intervals along its track. In this way houses that started from the 
upper end of Johnstown stranded two or three miles up Stony Creek, Kern- 
ville receiving not only its own wreckage but a 'good deal belonging to the 
adjacent boroughs. Men, women and children, holding on with a despairing 
grip to wrecked matter, cried in vain for succor. When the current changed 
houses, stables, workshops and everything portable were twisting, cracking 
and clashing, freighted with a multitude of floaters. People on Prospect Hill 
saw friends and neighbors dashed or drifted to their doom, out of reach of 
mortal help. Perchance some would get near enough the bank to escape, but 
these were the exceptions. Sixteen hundred buildings of every sort and size, 
besides cars, bridges, trees and an incalculable amount of material collected on 
the route, heaped upon twelve acres and thickly sown with dead bodies and 
animal carcasses, presented a mass of wreckage above the bridge so terrible 
in its nature and extent that no colors could paint it too vividly. 

For eight or ten minutes — watches were not consulted in the wild tumult — 
the water was held in. the angle formed by the bridge and the bluff across Stony 
Creek. Each second heaped it higher and still higher, as if piling Ossa on 
Pelion, until it climbed over the bridge and the approach, which served as the 
breast of the vast reservoir that was to repeat the scenes of an hour before 
at Lake Conemaugh. The embankment wore away in a twinkling, and great 
slices of the wreck pitched headlong into the yards of the Cambria Iron Works. 
The upper end of the rail mill was torn out. Boilers wriggled from their brick 
arches and engines executed strange gyrations. Stones and earth showered 
acres of the yard to the depth of ten or twelve feet, covering a train of freight 
cars as completely as the earthquake buried Lisbon. Ho'uses that had been 
delayed above the bridge made up for lost time by dashing through the widen- 
ing chasm at breakneck speed. Those on Iron street, Millville, next to the 
embankment, were the first to go. The swift current had not harmed them 
irreparably until the waters gorged and checked and backed up from the 
bridge. They moved off by wholesale when the embankment yielded. The 
inmates of many had been taken in the forenoon to Prospect, where they 
watched the tragedy that robbed them of homes and chattels, relatives and 
neighbors at a breath. Fifteen persons were thrown upon the roof of the rail 
mill, to be swept off the next instant by a whirling mass of timbers. On the 
other shore was Cambria Borough its streets a pond since midnight. For this 
cause work was generally suspended, and most of the citizens stayed in-doors. 
From the river-bed, which the water actually ripped up in shifting the stream 



102 



THE STOR V OF JOHNS TO WN. 



to a channel nearer the iron works, a deposit of stones, five feet thick and a 
hundred yards long, landed in the village. Beginning at Squire Griffin's build- 
ing on Front street, the flood razed 148 houses to the cellars and carried them 
down the spiteful, swollen Conemaugh. Two wooden structures at the bend of 
the river somehow endured the strain unflinchingly and stood alone, like senti- 
nels on a deserted battle-field or the Ogden residence in the Chicago fire. Of 
the nine hundred people who faced death in the malevolent tide a large pro- 



M, i 







VIEW OF CAMBRIA BOROUGH FROM PROSPECT HILL, OVERLOOKING THE IRON WORKS. 

portion returned no more to tell of their adventures and experiences. Although 
the dense wreckage enabled many to land along the river, no less than three 
hundred and fifty residents of Cambria passed into the hereafter. Twenty-five 
families left no surviving member to say what had become of them, and over 
half the town was stripped bare as a hungry dog could scrape a bone. 

Soon the waters went out of the mountains, finding plenty of elbow-room 
in the broadening valley. They weakened, spread over a greater area and let 
Coopersdaleoff with eight wrecked buildings and a couple hundred lower stor- 
ies flooded. Morrellville suffered little, and Sheridan's damage was trifling. 
But for miles the shores were lined with evidences of the havoc done from the 
dam to the western border of Cambria. To the inhabitants of Nineveh, Bolivar. 
New Florence and other points down the river the masses of flotsam gave the 



THREE THOUSAND PERSONS PERISH. J 03 

first notice of the catastrophe. How they responded to the calls for help and 
bravely rescued dozens of affrighted people, drifting rudderless in the tumid 
current ! Rain and darkness interfered with the work, otherwise the list of the 
saved would have been larger. Men with lanterns paced the banks, trusting 
the flickering rays might guide some poor creature to a haven. The fiercest 
rush was over and the virulent waters, as if repenting their devilish deeds, 
sneaked off in the gloom to hide in the Kiskiminetas, the Allegheny, the Ohio 
and the Mexican Gulf. 

Then came night, bringing with it new horrors. The back-water re- 
mained and thousands cowered on the wreckage, scarce daring to breathe lest 
their treacherous support be rudely parted or whisked from under them. The 
few whom buildings sheltered could only watch and pray and wait for the 
morning, cheering others if they could and being cheered in turn. Hearts that 
had hoped quailed and drooped as fire added its quota to the terrors of the 
night. A blazing church and houses on both sides of it cast lurid gleams over 
Conemaugh Borough and the upper end of Johnstown. Down at the bridge 
a conflagration raged, consuming much wreckage and cremating helpless un- 
fortunates stuck fast in the insensate mass. Crash succeeded crash, shrieks 
were heard on every hand, and the long hours dragged, oh, so slowly and wear- 
ily ! The agonized sufferers felt the pangs of a hundred deaths in the darkness 
and the ruin that enshrouded the doomed Conemaugh Valley. 

And thus, more quickly than the story can be told, three thousand persons 
perished. Other thousands, who were in the flood and not slaughtered, 
mourned the fate of near and dear ones, the loss of happy homes, the blasting 
of earthly joys, the severing of tender ties, the wreck of fondest hopes. It was 
not merely a flood, but whole towns afloat, that wrought this cruel blight. 
Property representing millions of dollars, the expenditures of wealthy corpora- 
tions and the hard-earned savings of humble toilers, had vanished. The peo- 
ple knew what it was to have muddy water swamp their ground floors, spoil 
their carpets and set everything swimming in their cellars, but none had the 
least notion that Johnstown could be washed out of existence. The water rose 
to the third stories in a moment, which meant that a sudden halt was put upon 
busy life, that death and destruction must hold undisputed sway, and that 
Cambria county should furnish the saddest page in American history. 

So the day ordained to be memorable to latest generations — Friday, Ma}' 
31st, 1889 — closed at last in sorrow and distress, mourning and anguish, deso- 
lation and bereavement unparalleled since trials and tribulations fell to the 
lot of mankind. Wall Street's "Black Friday," strewn with financial wrecks. 
was a bow of radiant light compared with this, the blackest Friday in Time's 
unerring calendar. 

There was much talk of a "cloud-burst" to explain why the dam had 
overflowed and melted away. The rains were sufficient, without dragging in 
any other burst than the burst in the dam. Sergeant Stewart, in charge of the 



104 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

bureau of the Signal Service at Johnstown, says that the fall of water on the 
Conemaugh at that point up to the time of the flood was probably 2^ inches. 
He believes it was much heavier in the mountains. The country drained by 
Conemaugh Creek and Stony Creek covers an area of about one hundred 
square miles. The bureau, figuring on this basis and 2^ inches of rainfall, 
finds that 464,640,000 cubic feet of water were precipitated toward Johnstown 
in its last hours. This is independent of the great body of water in the lake, 
which was not less than two-thirds as much. It is therefore easily seen that 
there was ample water to cover Conemaugh Valley from ten to twenty-five 
feet deep. Such a volume of water was never before known to fall in Cambria 
County in the same time. 

Whether rain-fall or cloud-burst was the cause mattered nothing to the 
three thousand human beings who had crossed the dark river of death ! 




The Burning Wreckage above the Stone Bridge. 



X. 



ACCUMULATED HORRORS. 



The Dreadful Sights and Sounds of a Night of Unutterable Agony — Dying in the 
Rain and the Darkness — Falling Buildings and Crashing Wreckage — Confla- 
gration at the Railroad Bridge — Dead Bodies and Living Beings Consumed — 
Calcined Bones and Roasted Flesh — Dramatic Episodes — A Gruesome Spectacle 
Near Nineveh — Heads, Arms and Legs Sticking Out of the Sand and Muck — 
Recitals that Surpass the Wildest Flights of Fiction. 



' Nothing but lamentable sounds was heard, 
Nor aught was seen but ghastly views of death. 
Infectious horror ran from face to face 
And pale despair." 




ANGUAGE is too weak to convey an adequate idea of the horrors 
that crowded thick and fast, as the evening and the night wore 
on. Cold rain fell in torrents, drenching to the skin 
the shivering mortals clinging to roofs, or drifting on ' 
bits of wreck in the pitch}' darkness there was neither 
lamp nor candle, gas-jet nor electric light to dispel. 
The bridges had vanished and no way existed for 
separated families to get news of one another. The 
fate of thousands was uncertain and the suspense 
most harrowing. All around buildings that had 
partly held together during their dreadful journey, 
down and up and down again, kept falling to pieces 
with a noise startling as the crack of doom. Here a 
strong man, mangled in the jam and crush, passed 
in the rain and the darkness to the shining shore, without a gentle hand to 
wipe away the damps of death or ease the wounded frame. There women ex- 
pired from shock and exhaustion, or brought children prematurely into the 
world. Yonder lay the sick and the maimed, racked with pain and moaning 

IO" 



'cut off my leg! don't let 

ME BURN!" 



IOS THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

feebly, beside corpses more to be envied than was their living company. The 
town was under fifteen to twenty feet of water, and who could feel secure in 
refuges that rocked and creaked continually? Now and then a piercing shriek 
proclaimed that some poor soul had been forced into the current, to strangle 
and die. From the revelations of that weird, unearthly night Dante could 
have learned how to devise new torments for his " Inferno." 

The wreckage at the railroad bridge — the invulnerable pile of masonry 
which laughed at a bombardment that would have shaken the pyramids — 
caught fire at six o'clock. This bridge played an important, part in the flood, 
causing numerous fatalities and yet saving many lives. Had it been of iron, 
all the houses floated away with the first rush would have gone down the river 
unhindered. In this event not a vestige of Cambria or Morrellville could pos- 
sibly have escaped destruction. When the three divisions of the waters met 
they would not have been forced so far back, hence Johnstown and Kernville 
would have fared considerably better. On the other hand, thousands of peo- 
ple, who floated up and down at the pleasure of the waves and were rescued, 
would certainly have perished. With the bridge out of the way, the embank- 
ment between it and the station could not have lasted five minutes. The Cam- 
bria Iron Works and everything near the stream would have been obliterated. 
The rubbish would not have been left in Johnstown, but probably the loss of 
lives would have been doubled or trebled below the bridge, towards which a 
sea of human beings and wreckage surged constantly. The wreckage covered 
the water more thickly than the houses had covered Johnstown and Millville. 
The vast mass rushed down to the stone arches and matted and twisted and 
gorged. Dead bodies, drowning people and endless wreck mixed and bound 
in a Gordian knot the hands of a Titan could not unloose. The bridge stood 
firm as Leonidas and his Spartan band at Thermopylae. The drift fastened 
its tentacles to the arches, dammed up the outlet and backed the tide. Above 
the munching and grinding of the writhing mass were plainly heard the shrill 
cries of frantic women and the hoarse shouts of drowning men, imploring the 
help that could not be extended them. The embankment yielded, the waters 
began to recede and the wreck hugged the bridge and the bluff more closely. 
As the waters lowered the mass settled, squeezing out countless lives. 

Cars of crude petroleum, inflammable as gun cotton, came to grief on the 
tracks between Johnsto.wn and East Conemaugh. Their contents saturated 
part of the drift. Kitchen utensils, furniture, clothing and cooking-stoves pip- 
ing hot came down in the houses that contained them. One of these stoves 
tipped over, or was smashed. The oil-soaked wood ignited and tongues of 
flame licked up the wreckage about the bridge. The glow illuminated the 
skies and people wondered how and when and where the fire would end. Calls 
from roof to roof, "what's burning now?" brought answers which sounded like 
the rattle of gravel on a coffin-lid. Stifling groans and suffocating screams told 



ACCUMULATED HORRORS. 109 

that people were roasting. How many living beings and dead bodies were 
consumed can be conjectured only. At first two thousand was the estimate. 
Missing ones returned when the receding waters permitted a passage and the 
estimate dropped to one thousand — five hundred — three hundred. The latter 
may be accepted as fairly accurate. No funeral-pyre in India has been fur- 
nished with such an array of victims. There was "water, water everywhere," 
but not a drop to quench the largest bonfire Pennsylvania ever saw. 
Though the blaze had been accessible, the efforts of a battalion of firemen to 
extinguish it would have been ridiculously futile. The streams squirted through 
a thousand nozzles could not affect acres of scorching, devouring flame, fed hy 
combustibles that burned and seared and sputtered to the water underlying them. 
Two nights and two days the fiery furnace crackled and blazed with all the fury 
of the hell folks read about. On Sunday its supply exhausted and the embers 
were put out by a company of gallant fire-laddies from Pittsburgh. They 
came on the first train that ran to the west end of the bridge, bringing with 
them hose and engines and manfy courage, Chief Steele at their head. The 
light, dry, splintery stuff was reduced to ashes, but logs and timbers without 
limit remained to tax the ingenuity of man to clear a channel which should let 
the disease-breeding wreckage swim down the river and lose itself in the 
Atlantic ocean. Charred skulls, which pulverized at a touch, blackened bones 
and roasted flesh, protruded through the dreadful pile when the flames and 
the waters retired. Just try to conceive a picture of being cremated in the 
ruins of your own house, miles from its foundations, your dear ones consum- 
ing before your eyes, and you can understand something of the crowning horror 
at the railroad bridge below Johnstown ! Then to have a calcined bone fingered 
by a lean, lank, cadaverous relic-hunter, to be taken to his home and exhibited 
to visitors as a souvenir of the disaster ! 

Miss Rose Clark was one of the crowd on the wreck when the fire started. 
Two men were endeavoring to free her from heavy timbers, which held her 
fast as in a vise. The brave girl, who was suffering from a broken arm, a 
broken leg and painful bruises, encouraged her rescuers by words of cheer and 
looks of gratitude. The flames spread in their direction and one of the men 
feared he would be obliged to leave Miss Clark to a torturing death. She be- 
sought him to try once more, saying, "Cut off my leg! Don't let me be 
burned up ! " The next attempt succeeded, the timbers yielded sufficiently to 
extricate the bleeding foot and the young lady was carried to the west shore of 
Stony Creek. On Saturday her fractures were attended to by a physician, 
and in due course the heroine of this dramatic adventure recovered. 

Ex-Burgess "Chal. " L. Dick, the talented lawyer and genial companion, 
who rivals Bogardus or Buffalo Bill as a crack shot, was a witness of the grow- 
ing horrors. His wife lost near friends — father, mother, sisters, nephews and 
nieces — and the children were rescued from water up to their parents' shoul- 



I 10 



THE STOR Y OF JOHNSTO WN. 



ders. The frightful events of Friday afternoon and night excited Mr. Dick's 
profound compassion, as the depredations of plundering rascals aroused his 
ire on Saturday. Unmindful of his own losses of friends and property, he strove 
to assist the sufferers and to intimidate the looters who robbed indiscriminately. 
His fearless determination, backed by his favorite rifle and a tone and look which 
boded evil to wrong-doers, was worth a brigade of troops in maintaining 
order. This is what he told about the flood and the fire : 

"Yes, I saw it from start to finish. My house was on Somerset street, Kernville. On 
Thursday night it rained very hard. My wife woke me and called my attention to the way the 
water was coming down. I said nothing, but I got up about five o'clock and took a look around. 

In a little while Stony Creek had risen three feet. I 
then knew that we were going to have a flood, but I did 
not apprehend any danger. The water soon flooded 
the streets, and boards and logs began coming down. 
A lot of us turned in to have some sport. I gave my 
watch and what money I had to a neighbor and began 
riding logs down the stream. I had lots of company. 
Old men acted like boys, and shouted and splashed 
about in the water like mad. Finally the water began 
to rise so rapidly that I became alarmed. I went 
home and told my wife that it was full time to get out. 
She was somewhat incredulous, but I made her get 
ready, and we took the children and went to the house 
of Mr. Bergman, on Napoleon street, just on the rise 
of Kernville. I got wet from head to foot fooling in 
the water, and when I got to Bergman's I took a chill. 
I undressed and went to bed and fell asleep. The 
first thing I knew I was pulled out of bed to the 
floor by Mr. Bergman, who yelled, ' The dam has 
burst !' I got up, pulled on my pantaloons and rushed 
down stairs. I got my youngest child and told my 
wife to follow with the two others. This time the 
chal. l. dick. water was three feet in the house and rising rapidly. 

We waded up to our waists out through it, up the hill, far beyond the reach of danger. 

"From the time I left Bergman's till I stopped is a blank. I remember nothing. I turned 
and looked, and may my eyes never rest on another such sight ! The water was above the 
houses from the direction of the railroad bridge. There came a wave that appeared to be 
about twelve feet high. It was perpendicular in its face and moved in a mist. I have heard 
them speak of the death mist, but I then first appreciated what the phrase meant. It came on 
up Stony Creek, carrying on its surface house after house and moving along faster than any 
horse could trot. In the water there bobbed up and down and twisted and twirled the heads of 
people making ripples after the manner of shot dropped into a puddle. The wave struck 
houses not yet submerged and cut them down. The frames rose to the surface, but the bricks, 
of course, were lost to sight. When the force of the water spent itself and began retracing 
its course then the awfulness of the scene increased in intensity. I have a little nerve, but 
my heart broke at the sight. Houses, going and coming, crashed up against each other and 
began grinding each other to pieces. The buildings creaked and groaned as they let go their 
fastenings and fairly melted. At the windows of the dwellings there appeared the faces of the 




ACCUMULATED HORRORS. m 

people equally as ill-fated as the rest. God forbid that I should ever again look upon such in- 
tensity of anguish. How white and horror-stricken those faces were, and such appeals for 
help that could not come ! The women wrung their hands in their despair and prayed aloud 
for their deliverance. Down stream went houses and people at the rate of twenty-five miles an 
hour and stopped, a conglomerate mass, at the stone abutment of the railroad bridge. The 
first buildings that struck the bridge took fire, and those that came afterward were swept into 
a sea of flame. I thought I had already witnessed the greatest possible climax of anguish, but 
the scene that followed exceeded in awfulness anything I had before looked upon. The flames 
grew ; hundreds of people were wedged in the driftwood and imprisoned in the houses. Rapidly 
the fire approached them, and then they began to cry for aid, and hundreds of others stood on 
the bank, powerless to extend a single comfort. 

"As the fire licked up house after house and pile after pile, I could see men and women 
bid each other good-bye and fathers and mothers kiss their children. The flames swallowed 
them up and hid them from my view, but I could hear their shrieks as they roasted alive. 
The shrieks mellowed into groans and the groans into silence, only to be followed by more 
shrieks, more groans and more silence as the fire caught up and destroyed its victims. Heavens ! 
but I was glad when the end came. My only anxiety was to have it come quickly, and I prayed 
that it might come quick ! It was a splendid realization of the Judgment Day — a magnificent 
realization of the impotency of man in a battle with such a combination of fire and flood." 

Conductor Frank McDonald, who viewed the carnage at the bridge, said 
to me : 

"Well, what did you think of it ? Wasn't it shocking ? One of the first houses that came 
down struck the bridge and took fire and others were consumed as they arrived. I believe I 
saw hundreds of bodies burn. They reminded me of a lot of flies on fly-paper, struggling to 
get away with no hope and no chance to save them. I have no idea that blowing up the bridge 
would have diminished the loss of life. It was impossible to reach it to explode dynamite, the ' 
water came so fast. Away down in the terrible depths the mass of torn and twisted timbers and 
dead humanity burned. The light, curling smoke that rose to the mountain, and the sickening 
stench from the centre of the heap showed that the fire was feeding on other fuel than the 
rafters and roofs and walls that once housed the population of Johnstown." 

After the flames died away the search for bodies commenced. Very often 
the gleam of an axe and a group of stooping figures denoted another ghastly 
find. Even the keen eyes of love could not discern in limbless trunks and 
fleshless skeletons the forms of kindred and friends. So the fragments were 
hurried into shallow graves among the unknown. The forest-clad hills are 
silent concerning them, the tomb reveals no secrets, the river is peaceful as a 
baby's smile, and the names of many victims of the holocaust will not be 
learned until sea and land give up their dead. 

Above Nineveh the Conemaugh winds around a neck of land that juts into 
the stream. Over this patch the flood whirled and eddied, leaving behind it a 
stack of bodies. On Saturday the waters had fallen to the level of the annual 
freshet. In the sand and muck two hundred corpses were deposited. Un- 
even, irregular mounds of dirt pointed out where some of them had been un- 
loaded and covered lightly, as the birds enwrapped the Babes in the Wood. 
Others were marked by a tuft of hair, a naked shoulder, a slimy head, a hag- 
gard face, a clenched hand, an exposed hip, a shoeless foot, or a rigid arm 



I 12 



THE STOR Y OF JOHNSTO WN. 



sticking out of the ooze and grime and polluted soil ! Still more lay stark and 
stiff and cold, in every conceivable position — straight as a plumb-line, crooked 
as hunch-backs and doubled up in most repulsive fashion. What a subject for 
Dore' s pencil this gruesome spectacle would have been, the memory of which 
haunts one like a nightmare ! 

There were many illustrations of the mother-love that is always manifested 
where mothers are. Among the most touching was that of the mother who, 
clinging with her two infants to the roof of her house, as it was swept along, 
had a rope thrown by which she might have saved herself if she would leave 
her children. To this f riend- 
1}' offer she only shook her 
head, stayed with her little 
ones and with them went 
down the roaring flood. 
The bodies of Patrick Fa- 
gan, his wife and five chil- 
dren were found among the 
drift on Wednesday, all the 
seven in a bunch. Mrs. Fa- 
gan was holding her baby 
with a grasp not even the 
death struggle could relax. 
Another mother and her 
baby, the latter pressed to 
the bosom that had been supplying nourishment, were dug from the wreckage 
in Kernville. Flood and flame could not subdue the maternal instinct, the 
redeeming virtue which Adam's fall did not impair. Locked in each other's 
arms so firmly they could not be forced apart, two girls found in a mass of 
wreckage, near Bolivar, were placed in one coffin of rough boards and buried 
together. Amid scenes like these 

" Every face 
Was pallid — seldom hath that eye been moist 
With tears that wept not then !" 

In the midst of it all children came into the stricken world. One case at- 
tracted special notice. A very small baby, who had a very large experience 
crowded into his brief career, sailed for England with his parents in June. 
He was the youngest child of Griffith Williams, who, with his wife and four 
little ones, returned to their former home in Wales, after having lost everything 
but their lives. The baby — he was appropriately named Moses — was born 
surrounded by the horrors of that awful night in the Conemaugh Valley. 
Hours before the parents had fled their own house, driven by the rising water 
to seek another place of safety. They went to the house of a relative on Lin- 
coln street. The flood overtook them. They were driven to the attic. The 




TWO DEAD GIRLS LOCKED iN A FIRM EMBACE. 



ACCUMULATED HORRORS. H3 

house was swept from its foundations and began a voyage down the surging 
torrent. When the railroad bridge was reached the house was wrenched in 
halves, and the Williams family were driven from their friends. The part of the 
wreck to which they hung was forced by the pressure of back-water up Stony 
Creek. There in the darkness and storm the baby was born. He was 
wrapped up in a piece of old shawl his mother wore. It was drenched with 
rain, but there wasn't a dry thread in the attic. They had no food. The 
children shivered and cried. The mother was almost dead. Between six and 
seven o'clock on Saturday evening help came. Mother and babe were lifted 
on a shutter and carried over the roofs of houses to a shelter on the hillside. 
The father was a sturdy emplo)''^ at the Cambria iron works, settling at Johns- 
town three- years ago. The mother was a quiet little women of modest de- 
meanor, whose young face presented unmistakable traces of the fearful ordeal 
of that night on the flooded Conemaugh. The older children — John, seven years 
old, Davy, five years, and Howell, two years — were bright little fellows, but 
Moses was the star of the group ! 

In making up the list of applicants for aid at Johnstown, the secretary of 
a committee came across the name of a baby who had been christened "May 
Flood." The child was born two hours before the water swept down the 
Valley. When the flood reached the second storj' of the frame building 
the mother and her child were placed on a mattress, which was carried to the 
top of the floating house. During the passage from the room to the house- 
top the babe fell into the water, but was rescued by its father. The baby is 
healthy and heart}'. A woman from East Conemaugh gave birth to a child 
five minutes after the house floated awaj' with herself and her f amily. Mother 
and babe perished. The infant child of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Edwards, 
born ten days after the flood, was named May Deluge Kinzer. Mr. Edwards 
lost all his property. 

The body of a girl of about nineteen was found in a peculiar position just 
outside the blast furnace. She was pinned down under a rail. It lay right 
across her bosom and had pressed half through her chest. Stout men wept as 
they raised the mangled form, which was consigned to an unknown grave on 
Prospect Hill. 

Representatives of various newspapers, who flocked to the spot on Satur- 
day and Sunday, in their eagerness for news sent out exaggerated reports and 
pure inventions, as though the dread realities were not enough to freeze the 
blood and chill the marrow ! The world outside, longing for information, stood 
amazed at stories of lynchings, mutilations and robberies of the dead, and deeds 
of violence that would shame the King of Dahomey. The cases that origi- 
nated these statements can be summed up in a few sentences. Hungarians 
and Italians did pillage some bodies, cutting off fingers and ears for the sake of 
rings and jewelry. Their infamous work was soon stopped by the outraged 



I 1 4 THE STOR V OF JOHNSTO WN. 

citizens, who threatened the ghouls with summary vengeance. A reputable 
resident of Conemaugh Borough actually saw a part}' of Italians drag a female 
body from the ruins and outrage the inanimate form ! Had he happened to 
have a gun, some of the foul fiends would have paid the penalty of the dam- 
nable crime on the spot. Before he could bring men to the scene the ruffians 
had sated their devilish lust and fled. Another was detected on Sunday, at 
Kernville, in the attempt to assault a young girl whom he had pulled half -dead 
from under a lot of boards. The villain was taken to the woods by several 
incensed men, who strung him to a tree until his worthless life ended, then cut 
down the carcass and chucked it into a mudhole. This atrocious scoundrel 
was the only one hanged. A negro pilfering a trunk was shot at and wounded in 
the arm by an indignant bystander. A Hungarian, plundering corpses lying 
along the shore below Morrellville, was forced at the muzzle of a Winchester 
rifle, in the hands of a prominent citizen of Johnstown, to disgorge his booty 
and wade into the river. He could not stem the current and was soon dis- 
patched to Hades. No other persons were lynched or shot or drowned, despite 
the crowds alleged to have been done to death by lawless mobs, but gangs of 
thieving rascals were soundly thrashed and driven out of town. 

The men in the signal tower of the Pennsylvania road at Sang Hollow, 
four miles west of Johnstown, saw a fair young girl come down on the roof of a 
building which swung towards the shore. She screamed to the operators to 
save her. One brave fellow walked into the river as far as he could and 
shouted to her to try to guide herself to land with a bit of plank. She made 
two or three bold strokes and actually stopped the raft for an instant. Then 
it swerved and went from under her. She tried to swim, but in a few seconds 
was lost. On the bridge at Bolivar, which was weighted down with cars of 
coal to hold it on the piers, men stood with ropes to throw to people floating 
down the river. The darkness was so intense that few could clutch the ropes, 
as the}' whizzed past, and retain their grip. It was the last resource of many 
a soul drifting out into eternal night. The groans of agony when the rope 
eluded the outstretched arms will ring in the ears of the hearers to their dying 
hour. One boy contrived to stick to the line and was drawn upon the bridge, 
bleeding, contused and almost naked. The lad, aged 13 and named Edward 
Harten, told his preserver, James Curry, these particulars : 

"With my father I was spending the day at my grandfather's house in Cambria. In the 
house at the time were Theodore, Edward and John Kintz, young John Kintz and his wife, Mary 
andTreacy Kintz.Mrs. RicaSmith, John Hirsch and four children, my father and myself. Shortly 
after five o'clock there was a noise of roaring waters and screams of people. We looked out of 
the door and saw persons running. My father told us to never mind, as the waters would not 
rise further. But soon we saw houses swept away and we ran up to the floor above. The house 
was three stories, and we were at last forced to the top one. In my fright I jumped on the bed. 
It was an old-fashioned one with heavy posts. The water kept rising, and my bed was soon 
afloat. Gradually it was lifted up. The air in the room grew close and the house was moving. 



ACCUMULATED HORRORS. x t - 

Still the bed kept rising and pressed the ceiling. At last the posts pushed against the plaster. 
It yielded, and a section of the roof gave way. I found myself on the roof, being carried down 
stream. After a little the roof began to part, and I was afraid I was going to be drowned. Just 
then another house with a shingle roof floated by and I managed to crawl on it, and floated 
down until nearly dead with cold, when I was saved. After I was freed from the house I did 
not see my father. My grandfather was on a tree, but he must have been drowned, as the 
waters were rising fast. John Kintz, jr., was also on a tree. Miss Mary Kintz and Mrs. Mary 
Kintz I saw drown. Miss Smith was also drowned. John Hirsch was in a tree, but the four 
children were drowned. The scenes were terrible. Live bodies and corpses were floating down 
with me and away from me. I would see persons, hear them shriek, and they would disappear. 
All along the line were people who were trying to save us, but they could do nothing, and only 
a few were caught. " 

At Bolivar a young man and two women were seen coming on a piece of 
a floor. At the upper bridge a rope was thrown to them which they all failed 
to catch. Between the two bridges he was noticed to point toward the elder 
woman, who was likely his mother. He was then seen to instruct the women 
how to catch the rope that was lowered from the other bridge. Down came 
the raft with a. rush. The brave man stood with his arms around his two 
companions. As they swept under the bridge he seized the rope. He was jerked 
violently away from the women, who failed to get a hold. Seeing that they 
could not be rescued, he dropped the rope and fell back on the raft, which 
floated on. The current washed the frail craft toward the bank. The young 
man was enabled to seize a branch of a tree. He aided the two women to get 
up into the tree, while he held on with his hands and rested his feet on a pile 
of driftwood. Floating timber struck the drift, sweeping it away. The man 
hung with his body in the water. A pile of driftwood collected, furnishing him 
another insecure footing. Up the river there was a sudden crash. A section 
of the bridge was swept away and floated down the stream, striking the tree 
and snapping it off. All three were thrown into the water, and drowned be- 
fore the eyes of the horrified spectators. How they, or any others, reached 
Bolivar alive is a marvel. At Lockport Falls the waters poured through the 
rocky barrier with a deafening roar. Trees were bounced high in the air and 
houses dashed to kindling-wood. Yet a baby five months old — nobody knew 
whose child — floated the entire distance on the floor of the house and was 
rescued at Pittsburgh on Saturday morning ! The flood-waif is plump and 
vigorous to-day. Still people talk of Graham and his barrel at Niagara, and 
insist that the age of miracles is past ! 

C. W. Linthicum, of Batimore, was on his way from Pittsburgh to Johns- 
town on Friday evening. The terrors he witnessed may be judged from his 
description : 

"Our train, due at Sang Hollow at 4.02, was five minutes late. Just as we were about to 
pull out we heard the flood was coming. Looking up the valley, we saw an immense wall of 
water, thirty feet high, raging, roaring, rushing towards us. The engineer reversed the engine 
and ran back to the hills, three or four hundred yards, enabling us to escape. The flood swept 



1 1 6 THE STOR V OF JOHNSTO WN. 

by, tearing up tracks, telegraph poles, trees and houses. Supt. Pitcairn was on the train. We 
all got out and tried to save the floating people. Taking the bell-cord, we formed a line and 
threw the rope out, thus saving seven persons. We could have saved more, but many were 
afraid to let go the debris. It was an awful sight. The immense volume of water was roar- 
ing along, whirling over huge rocks, dashing against the banks and leaping high in the air, and 
this seething flood was strewn with timber, trunks of trees, parts of houses and hundreds of 
human beings, cattle and other animals. The fearful peril of the living was not more awful 
than the horrors of hundreds of distorted, bleeding corpses whirling along the avalanche of 
death, We counted 107 people floating by, and dead without number. On a section of roof 
were sitting a woman and girl. C. W. Heppenstall, of Pittsburgh, waded and swam to the roof. 
He brought the girl in first and then the woman. They were not relatives. The woman had 
lost her husband and four children, and the girl her father, mother and entire family. A little 
boy came by with his mother. Both were as calm as could be, and the boy was, apparently, 
trying to comfort the mother. They passed unheeding our proffered help, and, striking the 
bridge below, went down into the vortex like lead. One beautiful girl came by with her hands 
raised in prayer. Although we shouted to her and ran along the bank, she paid no attention. 
We could have saved her if she had caught the rope. About eight o'clock we returned to New 
Florence. All along the river were corpses caught in the branches of trees and wedged in the 
corners of the banks. A large sycamore tree between Sang Hollow and New Florence seemed 
to draw into it nearly all who floated down and they sank around its roots. Over two hundred 
bodies were close to that one spot. Nobody saved anything, and some of the people going down 
on the drift had lost every stitch of their clothing. It is too dreadful to think of. If I could 
only get rid of the expression on the faces of some of those drowning be'fore my eyes ! " 

One of the most horrible incidents was the discovery above the stone 
bridge of the body of a woman who had been killed while giving birth to a 
child. The babe had not yet been fully delivered. The identity of the woman 
could not be established. Doctors say the case is unparalleled. 

It was the impression of the medical corps and military surgeons, who ar- 
rived at Johnstown early in the week, that hundreds of men, women and chil- 
dren were insensible to all horror before the waters closed in over them. Their 
opinion was based on the fact that hundreds of the bodies were terribly wounded, 
generally on the head. In many instances the wounds were sufficient to have 
caused death. The crashing of houses in the first mad rush of the flood with 
a force greater than the collision of railroad trains making fast time, and the 
hurling of timbers, poles, towers and boulders through the air, are believed to 
have caused a legion of deaths in an instant, before the victims knew what was 
coming. Even the survivors bear testimony to this. The first surgeon in 
charge of the hospital treated long lines of people for wounds too terrible to 
mention. They knew not what happened, except that the}' fell in a moment. 

The first train that passed New Florence, bound east, was crowded wtih 
people from Pittsburgh and intermediate points, going to the scene of the dis- 
aster with the hope of finding their friends. Not a dry eye was in the train. 
Mothers moaned for their children. Husbands paced the aisles and wrung . 
their hands. Fathers pressed their faces against the windows and endeavored 
to see something, they knew not what, that would tell them in a measure of 



ACCUMULATED HORRORS. 



117 



the dreadful fate their darlings had met. Along the river the train stopped, 
and bodies were taken on, having been fished up by the villagers. Swollen 
corpses lay on piles of cross-ties, or on the river banks among the tangled 
greenery. Such things are engraved indelibly on the minds of the beholders. 

On Saturday a clerk was reeling along intoxicated. Suddenly, with a fran- 
tic shout, he threw himself over the bank and into the flood and would have 
been carried to his death had he not been caught by some persons below. 
"Let me die !" he exclaimed, when they rescued him. "My wife and children 
are gone ; I have no use for my life." An hour later he was lying on the 
ground overcome by drink. He had never tasted liquor before. 

Watchers in the signal-tower below Sang Hollow tell of young girls swept 
so far into the bank that they could almost touch them, and yet not far enough 
to be saved. On the other hand, brave men went out into the stream 
and brought to the shore people who seemed to be destined to destruction. 
Others tried and failed. It was a torturing night to those who were on' the 
brink of the waters. They could hear the cries of those whom they could not 
reach. Husbands saw wives and children perish before their e}'es. The women 
and children make the largest count in the death-roll. Two men on a tiny raft 
shot into the swiftest part of the current. They crouched stolidly, looking at 
the shore, while between them, dressed in white and kneeling with her face 
turned heavenward, was a girl seven years old. She was motionless, as if 
stricken with paralysis, until she came opposite the tower. Then she turnde 
her face -to the telegraph operator, so close he could see big tears on her 
cheeks. The men on shore shouted to her to keep up courage. She resumed 
her devout attitude and disappeared under the trees of a projection a short 
distance below. "We could not see her come out again," said the operator, 
"and that was all of it." "Do you see that fringe of trees?" — pointing to 
the place where the little girl had gone out of sight" — we saw scores of little 
children swept in there." 

There is a story of a fatal tree, full of grim interest. A man powerless to 
interfere saw men, women and children borne down the stream and dashed 
to death against this tree. The waters were full of human bodies. The dead 
kept floating by the telegraph stations of the railroad. It is a hundred miles 
by water from Johnstown to Pittsburgh, but the dead and the wreckage trav- 
eled all the way in twenty-four hours. On Saturday thousands of people stood 
.on the banks of these streams watching for the bodies. Statements came of 
individual loss and suffering, of men wandering over the mud flats where towns 
had once stood, bereft of everything — of property, wife and children ; of wo- 
men suddenly widowed and made childless. The calamity was so stupendous 
that people at a distance could not begin to appreciate its extent. Those near 
it were simply dazed or stunned. A whole community dwelling in a valley 
fifteen miles in length had been picked up bodily by the angry flood, and hurled 



n8 



THE STOR Y OF JOHNSTO WN. 



was hurled shrieking against the railroad bridge, pinned into the mass beyond 
all possibility of escape. It was not only death, but death with all the horrible 
tortures that can be imagined. 

The horror and infinite pity of it all ! 




RESCUED AT A SIGNAL TOWER. 



XI. 



GLIMPSES OF THE HAVOC. 



Awakening to the Full Reality and Extent of the Devastation — What the Dawn 
of a New Day Disclosed — Miles of Barren Waste and Heaping Wreckage — Walk- 
ing Over and Crawling Under Squares and Streets of Chaos — Cellars Packed 
with Dirt and Stones and Corpses — Landmarks Wiped Out — A Survey of the 
Fragments that Buried Acres of Johnstown, Conemaugh Borough and Kernville 
Fathoms Deep. 



" Then was I as a tree 
Whose boughs did bend with fruit ; but in one night 
A storm, or robbery, call it what you will, 
Shook down my mellow hangings, nay, my leaves, 
And left me here to wither." — Shakespeare. 




BALTIMORE & OHIO DEPOT. 



OPES WHICH survived that awful Friday night 
withered and died, their mellow hangings gone, 
when the morning of a new day revealed meas- 
urably the wide-spread desolation. Inch by 
inch the riotous waters had slunk away in the 
deep shades, afraid to look upon the evil they 
had wrought. Little by little the streets and 
the wreckage and the ravaged districts emerged. 
Day dawned, and it was not all a hideous 
dream. The sun rose, the birds sang and the 
real awakening had come. People bestirred themselves to reach dry places, 
or to lend a helping hand to those whom the flood still kept prisoners. They 
must hunt for their friends till they find them — alive possibly, dead probably. 
Impassable streams — their bridges washed out — divided the towns, and stretches 
of mud-laden water brooded where squares and blocks had been yesterday. 
Rafts were rigged up for errands of mercy and did good service. Floaters 
half-dead from exposure, weary lodgers on the drift, crying children and weep- 
ing women were piloted to firm ground and cared for as kindly as the scanty 

119 



120 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. . 

resources available would admit. Whole families were saved — a vagary of 
the flood ; whole families were lost — the mocker}' of fate. The survivors, 
stunned by the weight of the calamity, were moving they knew not whither. 
Over and under the wreck some clambered and crawled, peering into the 
smallest opening or prying up boards or sticks, all the while dreading what 
might be revealed. Others trod miles of ruins to discover that bare earth, or 
fragments of buildings which had traveled far, occupied the sites of their stores 
and dwellings. Merchants wandered aimlessly, tramps with the rest. Heedless 
of the direful consequences, not regarding the sorrow and suffering that must 
ensue, respecting neither age nor sex nor condition, intent only to pour forth 
their vials of hateful resentment, the waters had shunned no nook or cranny 
or crevice in their blind excesses. 

Let the reader accompany me on my Saturday exploration through and 
around Johnstown. Where is the heart of the town? Cast your eye west- 
ward and southward from Green Hill, on the turnpike leading to South Fork, 
over the wastes five to twenty feet under dirty water and the burning volcano 
at the railroad bridge, and you have the answer. A strip of thickly populated 
territory, two miles long by three to seven squares wide, with six dismantled 
buildings remaining, gives a faint idea of the havoc from the upper end of 
Woodvale to the blistered stone arches. Add to this two hundred houses in 
Cambria and a great gap along Stony Creek from end to end of Kernville, 
making a total of at least two thousand buildings, to complete the fearful 
survey. A bruised and battered grocery — a railroad station minus a corner 
and the tracks about it gone — the Cambria Iron Company's store, one-third 
of it beaten down and the offices safe under its guardian wing — the brick 
school-house on Iron street, into which hundreds crept or were dragged from 
the drift, and other hundreds are to be prepared for burial — are the remnants 
of the busiest sections of Conemaugh Borough, Johnstown and Millville. 
None of them can be approached for hours. Pools of water soak and swim 
whatever ventures to fathom their depths. Millville has followed Woodvale 
and Mineral Point, the school-building alone staying to see what the harvest 
will be. We cannot cross Conemaugh Creek, but the Gautier mills are miss- 
ing, and it is evident that the iron-works and Cambria Borough have been 
struck hard blows. Railroad trains are not running. Freight cars are in the 
litter of the streets or the wreckage above the bridge. A locomotive, which 
rode the wave like a cork from East Conemaugh, is lodged near the company's 
store — the store upon whose roof or through whose windows scores of' people 
leaped and were saved. No tracks are within sight, steam whistles are 
hushed, and the cheer}' hum of machinery is not heard. Excepting the farmers 
back of the hill that borders Conemaugh Borough, Johnstown can receive 
no visitors until some way is provided to cross the creeks or set the car- wheels 
in motion. Until then an Alpine tourist on a glacier is as approachable. 



GLIMPSES OF THE HAVOC. I2r 

Where is Washington street, the first paralleling Conemaugh Creek? 
Between it and the stream were the Baltimore & Ohio tracks and yards, sheds 
and freight houses, a hotel or two, the opera-house and the big store. The 
last building is the sole survivor. Everything else is blank space. The 
Turner Hall cannot be located, the Mansion House has quit doing business at 
the old stand, the warehouses are filling an engagement in the wreckage at 
the bridge, and advertising a reward for its return would not restore the one- 
storied wooden temple of music and the drama. The inhabited side of the 
street extended three blocks, from Clinton to Walnut. Not a particle of its 
seventy or eighty saloons, its stores, shops, restaurants and dwellings is to be 
seen. The buildings and their contents swell the drift and refuse that gorge 
Kernville or sustain the blaze on the Point, while the cellars are packed with 
mud and stones and dead bodies. • Two hundred persons were in these three 
blocks when the deluge hit them. Four-fifths of their number have responded 
to the summons that brooks no excuse for postponement to a more convenient 
season. The Public Library is a jumble of broken bricks and bits of slate 
roof, the books destroyed and their custodian — Mrs. Hirst — buried under the 
heap of rubbish that just peeps above the water. Next door was the 
Western Union office, which it would puzzle a microscopist to discover now. 
At the foot of Washington street, Walnut ran at right angles. No sign of it 
anywhere. The iron bridge to the Pennsylvania railroad and the wooden one 
behind the store have strayed off, and men across the stream are beginning to 
set rows of bodies on the station platform. The water keeps them and us apart. 
Each can only look from a distance at what the other is doing, and feel sick 
contemplating the misery and ruin and death. There is nothing farther down 
but the chaotic wreck, for the houses on the Point are not at home to-day, and 
Iron street is bleak and desolate as a country grave-yard in mid-winter. 

Locust street, a square back of Washington, is the next in order. The 
upper part is planted with wrecks, yet a fair percentage of its own buildings 
did not flit. Thirty horses changed the hay and corn at Harry Zimmerman's 
livery-stable for the perennial pastures of the heaven Charles Dickens and 
the Indians believed to be reserved for equines that never balked or kicked 
out the dash-board, and dogs that always refrained from hydrophobia and 
sheep-killing ! Two or three frames opposite are lacking, and a large one is 
leaning at a top-heavy angle. The snug brick residences in rear of the Metho- 
dist Church were roughly handled — bay windows absent, porches not at their 
posts, the furniture coated with slime and the inmates scattered. Frohneizer's 
tasteful home across the street presents a demoralized front, which the brick- 
layers, and carpenters can fix up as good as new. The gaps and breaks and 
vacancies have a depressing effect upon those whose acquaintance with the lo- 
cality antedates the flood. This brings us to the Park, which a jaunt}' fence 
had inclosed. Grass and trees flanked the cinder paths, and thousands crossed 



122 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

the plot daily. Look at it ! The trees, the fence, the grass, the paths have 
made room for a Babel of confusion. Why attempt to analyze the complicated 
mass, so like a hundred others ? Not a building is standing on the north side 
of the Park. From Franklin street Locust is a remembrance only, its dwell- 
ings in flinders and ridges of sand concealing its surface. 

What of Main street, where half the gleaning of the flood seems to be 
crammed between the buildings that declined the invitation to drop down or 
sail off ? Start from the head, on the slope at the intersection of Adams street. 
Squirrels might skip over the humps and layers of trees, timber, houses and 
everything the water could use in its game of shuttlecock, but it is a tough job 
for pedestrians. We jump, climb, go on all-fours, swinging by a projecting 
board or beam, stoop and rise on tip-toe by turns. The road is not adapted to 
locomotion of any sort. John Bunyan' s* " Christian, " who smiled at the 
Hill Difficulty, would have filled his hands and trousers' legs with jagging 
splinters on this excursion ! 

Well, here we are at Feeder, the first cross-street. The corner-house 
and two or three of its associates are in their places, though the dampness 
ogled with the ceilings and mussed the furniture in an untidy fashion "Miss 
Ophelia" would have voted "shiftless." Wreckage is soaring to the upper 
windows and the eaves. Houses are bending very low to houses which 
reciprocate the courtesy in kind. You are sure human bodies are under the 
dilapidated homes that drifted in last evening, and a sense of awe pervades 
the mind. Men are beginning to carry in corpses already, and you observe 
arms and heads and legs around and about and beneath your feet. Crossing 
the Baltimore & Ohio tracks, four yards under the rubbish, you query how 
long it will take to clear away or burn the queer ballast and have the cars go- 
ing again. People never valued the steam horse, the rumbling wheels, the dark 
red coaches and the flying trains so much as this morning, when the town is 
hermetically sealed and food not to be had. 

Railroad street is a mere shadow on one side and nothing on the other. 
A hiatus of many acres is liberally stocked with wreckage. Nice homes, shops, 
Henderson & Anderson's furniture ware-rooms and Cover's livery are in the 
assortment, which extends from the Conemaugh to Stony Creek. This is the 
swath the upper section of the great wave slashed down in short metre. See this 
mess of iron bars, bricks, wheels, ploughs, harrows and tools, fit only for the 
junk-pile ! It is not easy to realize that it was a mammoth business establish- 
ment eighteen hours ago. Swank's brick block — four stories filled with hard- 
ware and agricultural implements — stood on this spot, the southeast corner of 
Main and Bedford streets. A two-story brick was mortised in the north .end 
where the streets form an acute angle. A grocery occupied the ground floor and 
the Herald was printed up-stairs. The cylinder of the printing-press lies in 
the cellar across the way, and the roof of the Swank block is distributed over 



GLIMPSES OF THE HAVOC. 



12- 




RUINS OF SWANK S BRICK BLOCK, MAIN AND BEDFORD STREETS. 



the site of Hon. Daniel McLaughlin's mansion. On the southwest corner of 
these streets was a frame building, which its taller brick neighbors crushed 
into jelly, a family under it all. The northeast corner — Main and Clinton it 
is, Bedford ending — has been sponged off and helps make up the void stretch- 
ing back to Railroad street. Louther & Green's block, opposite, has a corner 
knocked out from pavement to cornice. It looks shaky around that quarter of 
the structure, as the break enlarges towards the top story, where Tommy Mc- 
Mullin has his billiard-room and Charley Burgraff his photograph-gallery. 

The Hager block, straight across Main, looks strangely awry. It was fin- 
ished and occupied in March, and one-third of it is a heap of ruins in the base- 
ment, destroying Geis & Schry's elegant new store. The accumulations of 
wreck and garbage increase as we advance, stray bits resting on the roofs. 
The Merchants' Hotel, a four-story brick, vibrates in the breeze. Part of the 
rear was thrown down, taking with it a porch and two guests. The next bui'd- 
ing is past redemption, and Luckhardt's frame is so racked and twisted that it 
must be pulled down. Back of these and adjoining buildings the refuse is 
abundant. The south side of the street had the largest stores in Johnstown. 

The mass of drift rises above them and you step through windows on the 
third floor. The walls are solid, but the plate-glass fronts have joined ••the 



I2 4 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

lost arts' ' Wendell Phillips talked about. The stocks were damaged by water, 
when not carried off bodily. Logs and trees and divisions of houses shot 
through some of these stores like cannon balls — in at the front and out at the 
back without ceremony — taking counters and shelves and goods in their trail. 
A hundred people spent last night on the roof of John Thomas's building, 
which defied the incursions of the flood. The wreckage is twenty-five feet deep, 
with a thickening tendency, and a dead horse — overtaken in the street — can 
be distinguished in the lump. How many human bodies we have stepped on 
and over cannot be guessed. The owners of some of these stores have signed 
their last check, rendered their last bill and given in their last account. May 
we not hope one and all had a generous credit in the books whose entries are 
infallible ? 

Pause right here a moment, take off your hat, and view this object. It is 
part of a little frame house, doubtless the humble abode of a poor family at 
Woodvale, or Franklin, or East Conemaugh, or Mineral Point. How it landed 
on the top of this pile is a mystery. Two walls of the room, the ceilings and 
the roof have been pulled off, but two sides and the floor remain. What more ? 
A table and two chairs are prone, but just look at that box ! On if stands a 
cloth elephant, erect and steady as though the house had not been jarred and 
wrenched and humped in the swim for hours. There are other toys on the 
rag carpet and a child's vacant chair. The pet of the household must have 
been playing with them when the building started on its fatal voyage. The 
mother — is she not buried in the drift, her darling pressed to her bosom ? The 
baby's fingers are stiff and icy cold. The}' will clasp the toys no more, and we 
drop a dear over a domestic revelation so full of tender pathos. 

Soon we reach the corner of Main and Franklin. On a lot from which 
a building was removed to make room for Dibert's new block the opera-house 
is bunched in the jam. It sailed from Washington street, by what route nobody 
can tell, and is touching the building used as the Bijou opera-house for years. 
Queer, isn't it, that the two should cuddle together at last? Back of this lot 
is the post-office, the front absent, the boxes topsy-turvey, the mails soaked to 
paste, and Postmaster Baumer after the brick house on the corner of Main 
and Adams for temporary quarters. The Tribune office, in the second story, 
had a bit of side-wall hustled out, type pied and presses hurt. John Dibert 
& Co. 's bank, on the southwest corner, has an undesirable deposit of mud and 
refuse, which detached from the mass and spilled into the old brick building. 
The senior partner was carried off by the flood with his house and his daught- 
er Editor Schubert, whose Freie Pressc was published above the bank, is 
also a victim, but the paper will shortly be on its legs again. The Park begins 
at the northwest corner, and Frazier's drug store faces it on the northeast. 
The building is considerably the worse of the tussle, a good piece of one wall 
falling in the affray. A box-car holds the fort in the middle of the street, and 



GLIMPSES OF THE HAVOC. 



12.5 




WRECKAGE ON MAIN STREET BETWEEN CLINTON AND FRANKLIN. 



a weather-beaten house reinforces it. The car is labelled "B. & 0.," which 
settles its identity, but none can recognize the tenement. Below Dibert's two 
doors is the Savings Bank, not crippled, but very moist. The cashier of the 
First National Bank — Howard J. Roberts — has paid his last draft, which a man 
of his sterling worth could do without protest. 

This is Alma Hall, four stories in height, a store and a gas-office below, 
law offices and lodge rooms higher up. The flood washed swarms of people 
toward the hall, where they were rescued. Three hundred found refuge within 
it all night, some coming over mountains of obstructions at the peril of life 
and limb. What an anxious time they had ! The assemblage divided into 
three parties, one each on the second, third and fourth floors, in charge of the 
Rev. Dr. Beale, 'Squire A. M. Hart and Dr. Matthews. Lights were not al- 
lowed and specific rules were formally adopted. The sick, the injured, the 
weaker women and the children had the best accommodations that could be 
obtained. Sobs and moans, tears and supplications, vows and prayers were 
heard continually and no person slept. Two women gave birth to infants, and 
two more had broken limbs. Dr. Matthews had three cracked ribs, yet forgot 
his own pains and bruises in ministering to those who so greatly required his 



126 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

intelligent skill. No one died during the night, but one sufferer yielded up 
her life this morning and several may follow her before Sunday. The pledges 
and promises made under the roof of Alma Hall, in the darkness and suspense 
of these weary hours, ought to produce a decided impression for good. Shall 
any violate them and urge Rip Van Winkle's plea, "This time don't count?" 

Dr. Lowman's inviting house, fronting Main street and the Park, bears a 
number of scars. The porches are agee, the marble columns staggering and 
the walls dotted with gobs of mud to the third story. The family and several 
neighbors escaped to the roof, which afforded a wide view of the destruction, 
and in the evening reached Alma Hall. John Fulton's spacious brick resi- 
dence, on the next lot facing the Park, is nowhere to be seen. He was at Con- 
nellsville and his family — one of them a married daughter, on a visit from Ve- 
nango county — had an experience they would not repeat for the wealth of the 
Vanderbilts. From Dr. Lowman's to Market street, the north side of Main, 
resembles the average lottery ticket — a blank. The public building, which had 
cells for prisoners, rooms for Council meetings, the office of the Burgess and 
the headquarters of the police, has resigned permanently, The bricks are in 
the basement and scattered on the streets. 

John McKee, a young man, was confined in the lock-up. If anybody 
thought of him, there was no time to open the grated door and give the pris- 
oner a show for his life. This morning, when an officer headed off the lock-up, 
after an arduous search, McKee was lifeless. He had climbed to the top of 
the door. The water rose twenty feet above it and strangled him. A fly in a 
spider's web may sever the gossamer lines, but poor McKee was not a Sam- 
son who could walk off with an entire calaboose. 

So it goes to the foot of the street. The remaining squares comprised doz- 
ens of the finest houses Johnstown could boast. The Cambria Club House has 
a dark streak across its upper windows and along its walls — high-water mark, 
and a rod of back wall has wandered away. Jacob Freund's mansion lost the 
rear end and a quarter section of the upper side. The old gentleman was alone 
in the house, his daughters having gone to New York, and he reached the roof 
as the water reached the head of the stairs. A score of these abodes of luxury 
have dissolved partnership with their possessors and might do a flourishing 
trade as "total wrecks." Others are not habitable. Col. J. P. Linton's 
home, at the end of the street, is a sample of many more that' are not floated 
off or destroyed utterly. Around it not a house stands. The roadway is blocked 
with five feet of sand, and coquettes with the roof in the yard. Note the 
cars and a span of a bridge in the vast repository, with bodies galore. The 
Armory stepped off on the double-quick at the command of the wave, and here 
it sticks, a mile from its proper quarters. The drift is appalling and the army 
of Julius Caesar would not be equal t'o the drudgery of clearing it away before 
the ides of March. Such a sight you will never behold again, should you live 



GLIMPSES OF THE HA WC. 



127 



to discount Methusaleh. Main street, with its multiform horrors and its flood 
phenomena, is to-day the most wonderful thoroughfare of any age or nation. 

Dinner, did you say? Bless you, there isn't a hotel, a boarding-place or 
an eating-house left in the settlement ! You couldn't find a sandwich if you 
raked Johnstown with a fine comb ! Cellars on the hill-sides were watered 
worse than railroad stocks, and the provisions spoiled. The people on 




P. LINTON S RESIDENCE, LOWER END MAIN STREET. 



Prospect — what a view of the flood they had up there ! — depended largely upon 
the farmers for supplies once or twice a week. This is the regular market- 
day, but you don't observe wagons and hucksters at every turn. We may be 
able to snatch a handful of crackers, should the Baltimore & Ohio road get in 
shape to run this afternoon. So we won't think of Delmonico's, though it does 
seem odd that one could have an appetite in this wilderness of horrors. 

No need to walk over — ford rather — the cross-streets from Market to the 
bridge. There are none ! Not a building or a landmark shows where thou- 
sands lived yesterday. The lower half of Vine street — it runs between Main 
and Stony Creek — as an aggregation of " shreds and patches" eclipses Nanki 
Pooh in his seediest garb. Two-thirds of its dwellings are caucasing in the 
hurly-burly surrounding the school-house, and the balance have hopped off 



128 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

their foundations. Stonycreek street is a surprise, because it — stayed ! The 
feathery frames along its south side dangle on the brink of the stream, which 
ebbed and flowed like a "poem of passion" during the flood, yet it did not 
scatter them as chaff. Back from the creek, among squares and rows, build- 
ings heavier and higher went down in droves, but these neither crumbled nor 
floated. Though not in the direct line of the wave which charged through 
the centre of the town and made it a desert, the back-water worked harder 
than a squad of police to have them "move on." It bubbled over the shingles 
and gurgled in the garrets, gnawed holes in the walls and nibbled off the 
porticos, tugged at them in front and shoved at them in the rear, fired logs at 
doors and driftwood against the windows, and — the houses didn't go! The 
Sphinx of antiquity propounded no enigma to the Thebans so hard to solve as 
the problems such features of the Johnstown flood suggest. 

Clinton street — passing down Main we glanced at it — presents fresh sur- 
prises. From Washington to Main it was built up principally with stores, 
hotels and shops, families occupying the upper floors. Three doors from Main, 
on the east side of the street, mark the basement filled with mud and wreckage. 
On this spot stood the Hulbert House, the leading hostelry. A snow-ball cast 
into a boiling caldron could not have melted more rapidly than this imposing 
brick hotel, which extended to the alley and was for years my stopping-place 
when visiting Johnstown. Sixty persons were in the house when the deluge 
came, but only nine of them are on earth this afternoon. Most of them rushed 
up-stairs at the first alarm. Their lives would have been pronounced a first- 
class risk by the most cautious insurance agent. They would watch the waters 
rise a foot or two, submit to some inconvenience for a day, and to-morrow the 
streets would be clear and things jogging in the usual way. 

The great wave crushed buildings and streets, opened a broad lane and 
tilted against the wing of the hotel. The result was astounding. The whole 
building reeled, parted, disappeared ! Fifty lives went out in the bewildering 
crash. Aladdin's palace vanished less swiftly and effectually. The good dea- 
con's "Wonderful One-Horse Shay ' ' left a bushel of dust to verify its collapse. 
Not a brick or a chip of the Hulbert House remained on the site, outside of 
those pelted into the cellar with the mud and the dead bodies. The roof de- 
stroyed the next building and steered to the corner of Main street. Floors, 
beams and thousands of bricks struck across the street with the force of a 
Krupp gun or a Roman catapult. A frame and three brick buildings — one 
McAteer's Hotel — sank in ruins, as egg-shells might do under the blow of a 
trip-hammer. On either side of the gap buildings stand, their fronts knocked 
out and driftings staring through the second-story windows. This clean-cut 
passage, in the ver}' vitals of a solid square of Clinton street, is another of the 
flood mysteries that are not "dreamt of in your philosophy." 

The two buildings below the Hulbert House have adopted Horace Greeley's 



GLIMPSES OF THE HAVOC. 129 

advice to "go West." Emil Young's two-story frame is on its pins, but the 
proprietor and his son were found dead in the store this morning. The family 
took off nine persons whom a bit of wreck floated near their house. The brick 
on the corner is badly punished. Note these heaps around Updegrove's store 
and the convent — huge trees part of the ingredients. Tread reverently ; here 
are three bodies — two women and a child ! Death and desolation hover over 
every foot of Johnstown. Were not the fountain of tears locked, every woman 
would be a Niobe or a Rachel, every man a David mourning for Absalom. It 
is like a stroke on the head, which stuns and renders the victim partially un- 
conscious. With the reaction will come an overpowering sense of grief. 
Whatever spot your eyes rest upon is a reflection of the Acadia unfolded in 
"Evangeline." Each seems to be the one chosen by the deluge for its special 
fury, until you turn to the next and conclude that it is impossible to discrimi- 
nate. Could ruin be more thorough and more universal ? 

Where are the people, you ask ? Hundreds are crouching on the hills — 
homeless, friendless, penniless ! Thousands are dead in cellars and streams, 
on the banks of the river, under the omnipresent fragments and the illimitable 
sand. Some have landed below the railroad bridge and will return when the 
creeks can be crossed, to cheer mourning relatives or to be bowed down in sor- 
row that none survive to welcome their escape from the very jaws of death. 
Many affrighted men hurried away this morning, taking with them the little 
bundles which held the scanty residue of their possessions. The great ma- 
jority — too dazed now to do aught but think of the calamity — will remain to 
repair the waste places and build up a grander Johnstown. 

Once more we enter Adams street. Groups loiter on the sidewalks. 
Neighbors meet and exchange greetings quite unlike the common salutations. 
Listen: "Good-day," says one, " how many lost ?" " Six " is the brief reply, 
spoken as coldly as if the weather were the topic. " My wife and three chil- 
dren went down," says another to a man who holds up three fingers to signify 
the number he lost. "I wonder if my daughter is found," asks an old 
woman, as six men pass with a body on a stretcher. They will place it in the 
school-house, which is to be the morgue. See the throng of sad-faced people 
in the yard, where twenty men are making rough boxes to serve as coffins. 
The burials must begin on Sunday. Months will come and go before the)' end. 

Kernville we can view from this point, as the Hebrew lawgiver viewed 
Canaan from Mt. Nebo. Stony Creek is not confined to its bed. Such a 
prodigal display of wreckage ! It would load the fleets of Europe and the 
United States. Haynes, Somerset, Napoleon and Norris streets are running 
over with it. Houses have departed and it has taken their places. There 
are four acres of it in one mass. The big building so far away is the Unique 
Rink, three-fourths of a mile from its foundation walls. Hercules had a frolic 
cleansing the Augean stables in comparison with the labor necessary to clear 



130 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

up Kernville and Grubtown, its southern annex. Opening the road over the 
Simplon, or constructing a way through a swamp for the passage of artillery 
was not more arduous than it will be to restore these streets to their normal 
condition. 

Sandyvale Cemetery would astonish its tenants, were they to "revisit the 
glimpses of the moon" and behold the rubbish that played ten-pins with its 
monuments and buried its graves. Was ever "God's Acre" so desecrated 
and maltreated ? Trees press the sleeping forms and a pig-stye rests in a 
family plot. Columns are broken, marble shafts thrown down and tombstones 
smashed. Bodies may be in the motley heap, for the dead are everywhere ! 

Moxham had a wetting to the second floors of houses by the creek and 
lost one resident — George Hummers. He was standing on the iron bridge, 
ran down the road for safety, fell over the bank and drowned. The bridge is 
passable and people are trying to reach it from the opposite shore. 

A locomotive whistle ! No doubt about it. A train on the Baltimore & 
Ohio road is feeling its way carefully from Moxham. It gets within a quarter- 
mile of Bedford street and the few passengers disembark. How they open 
their eyes at the havoc ! Ha ! here are other accessions — newspaper men from 
Pittsburgh. We shake their hands warmly ; it is so pleasant to feel that the 
desolated town is again in touch with the world outside. They tell of coming 
to Sang Hollow by the Pennsylvania Railroad, walking to the stone bridge, 
climbing the hills and crossing Stony Creek at Moxham. There is food com- 
ing, and one of them offers us a generous lunch. This baked chicken will di- 
vide nicely between the two children we saw a moment ago crying with 
hunger. 

When asked by Queen Dido to describe the fall of his loved city, the Tro- 
jan hero condensed volumes into one pregnant phrase : ' ' Ilium fuit. ' ' Behold- 
ing, as we have done to-day, the dismal waste and desolation of this afflicted 
community, we may apphy the sentiment of yEneas and say : Johnstown was ! 



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XII. 



FATE OF PASTORS AND CHURCHES. 



Abundant Provision in Spiritual Matters — Places of Worship and Ministers — Sanc- 
tuaries Wiped Off the Face of the Earth — Clergymen and their Families 
Drowned — Fire and Flood Combine to Destroy a Sacred Edifice — Peculiar Ex- 
perience of the Sisters of Charity — A Rector and His Wife and Child Meet 
Death Locked in a Firm Embrace — Father Davin's Zealous Services and La- 
mented End — The Wonderful Image of the Virgin Mary — Anecdotes. 



' Thy soul was like a star and dwelt apart ; 
Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea; 
Pure as the naked heavens — majestic, free, 

So didst thou travel on life's common way 
In cheerful godliness; and yet thy heart 

The lowliest duties on herself did lay."— Wordsworth. 




'HURCHES were important factors in the moral and social 
economy of Johnstown. Twenty or more congregations 
had edifices of their own, some large and imposing, with 
tapering spires pointing heavenward, and others small 
and unpretentious. Diligent, competent ministers, whose 
influence was powerful and far-reaching, served them 
acceptably. Johnstown proper, Conemaugh Borough, 
Kernville and Cambria were provided with fine sanctu- 
aries, Woodvale worshippers attending which they pre- 
ferred. The choice was not restricted, a dozen denom- 
inations presenting their claims. Several of the oldest 
and richest supported mission branches and Sunday- 
schools in the suburban villages. The local vineyard was tilled carefully, nor 
did the gospel seed fall on unfruitful soil, if devout attention to the ordinances 
of religion be a criterion. The Johnstown brand of piety was not the spas- 
modic, effervescent sort, up in the clouds to-day and to-morrow groveling in 



POINTING heavenward. 



1 3 4 THE STORY OF JOHNS TO H TV. 

the mire. The churches and pastors on the morning of May 31st were : 

English Lutheran : Franklin street, near Kernville bridge ; brick ; value, $45,000 ; mem- 
bership, 600 ; Rev. Reuben A. Fink, D. D., pastor. 

German Lutheran: Jackson street; brick; value, $30,000; membership, 400 families; 
Rev. J. P. Lichtenburg, pastor. 

Second Lutheran : Horner street ; frame ; value, $3,000; membership, 100 ; Rev. G. W. 
W. Amick, pastor. 

St. John's Reformed: Somerset and Dibert streets, Kernville; frame; value, $4,000 ; 
membership, 160 ; Rev. W. H. Bates, pastor. 

Dunkard : Somerset street, Kernville; brick; value, $16,000 ; membership, 125 ; Rev. J. 
B. Reltgers, pastor. 

St. John's Roman Catholic: Locust and Jackson streets ; brick; value, with convent and 
rectory, $150,000 ; membership, 550 families ; Rev. James P. Tahaney, pastor, and Rev. T. W. 
Rosensteel, assistant. 

St. Joseph's German Catholic : Railroad street, Conemaugh Borough ; brick ; value, with 
convent and school, $70,000; membership, 1,500; Rev. Bernard Manser, pastor, and Rev. 
Alto Heer, assistant. 

German Catholic: Cambria Borough ; brick; value, $10,000; membership, 300; Rev. 
Edward Trautwein, pastor. 

St. Columba's Catholic : Cambria Borough ; brick ; value, with school and rectory, 
$40,000 ; membership, 400 ; Rev. Father Davin, pastor. 

First Methodist Episcopal : Franklin and Locust streets ; stone ; value, with parsonage, 
$100,000; membership, 850; Sunday-School scholars, 800; Rev. Henry L. Chapman, D. D., 
pastor. 

Welsh Calvinistic Methodist : Vine and Llewellyn streets ; brick ; value, $5,000 ; mem- 
bership, 120; Rev. D. C. Phillips, pastor. 

African Methodist Episcopal : Haynes and Grant streets, Kernville ; frame ; value, 
$4,000 ; membership, 75 ; Rev. W. H. Snowden, pastor. 

Evangelical Association: Morris street, brick ; value, $14,000; membership, 250 ; Rev. 
F. P. Saylor, pastor. 

St. Mark's Episcopal : Locust street ; brick, with parish hall and rectory ; value, $20,000 ; 
membership, 200 ; Rev. Alonzo P. Diller, rector. 

First Regular Baptist: Franklin street near Stony Creek ; brick ; value, $20,000 ; Rev. 
H. L. Goodchild, retiring pastor. 

Welsh Baptist : Main street ; brick ; value, $12,000 : membership, 60 ; no pastor. 

Welsh Congregational : Walnut street ; brick ; value, $12,000 ; membership, 150 ; Rev. 
E. W. Jones, D. D., pastor. 

United Brethren : Stony Creek and Vine streets ; stone ; value, $25,000 ; membership, 
275 ; Rev. W. H. Mingle, pastor. 

Brethren Mission : Kernville ; supplied by Rev. George Wagoner. 

Christian : Main street ; brick ; value, $16,000 ; membership, 160 ; Rev. John Brenensthul, 
pastor. 

Presbyterian: Main street ; brick, with parsonage; value, $45,000; membership; 580; 
Rev. David J. Beale, D. D., pastor. 

United Presbyterian : Franklin street, near post-office ; brick ; value, $20,000 ; member- 
ship, 60 ; Rev. Joseph C. Greer, pastor. 

Presbyterian Mission : Morrellville ; frame ; branch of Johnstown church 

The German Lutheran Church, one of the first to feel the heavy hand of 
the destroyer, was totally annihilated, not a brick or a shingle remaining to 



FATE OF PASTORS AND CHURCHES. 1 35 

attest that it had ever been. The walls were tossed about like tennis-balls. 
The parsonage and the school-house experienced the same fate. The pastor 
— Rev. J. P. Lichtenburg — wife and family of four went down with their home. 
Daj's passed before their bodies were recovered. They had lived in Johnstown 
only a month. The congregation was vacant a considerable time, owing to the 
lack of unanimity regarding a successor to the former esteemed pastor. 
Finally Mr. Lichtenburg, a man of superior ability and attainments, was 
chosen. The church had entered upon a fresh lease of prosperity, when its 
entire property and half its membership fell a prey to the flood. Mrs. Lud- 
wig, an aged member, died from grief six weeks after the deluge. Four of her 
children perished — three sons and one daughter. The key of the church — the 
only thing left of the edifice — was given her by the sexton as a keepsake. It 
assuaged her grief somewhat, but the wound was too deep for earth to heal, 
and she expired clasping the key in her trembling fingers. Substantial aid has 
been given the congregation from abroad, and a new church will be erected. 

The tall steeple of the German Catholic Church is a notable Johnstown 
landmark. The clock in the tower can be seen from a great distance. By it 
three-fourths of the citizens regulated watches, and its sonorous announce- 
ments of the hours are heard in the farthest corner of the sextuple boroughs. 
A broadside passed through its upper wall, tearing a hole in the bricks large 
enough to admit a steamship. The roof was not disturbed. Part of the wreck- 
age lodged in the building, mashing the pews and floor, and part forced an 
exit through the opposite wall. A German resident of Woodvale was landed 
in the gallery by a mass of timbers. He explained in his Teutonic fashion : 

"Mein crashious ! It vos yoost von minute ven a cow coom in by mine side. So mad she 
vos as you never saw, mit her eyes sticking out. I vos scart most det und kept moving minesell 
oudt ov der road, thinking der deyvil vos coom, horns and all. Down dose stair I toomble, but 
der cow she fall too. I got me oop undt oudt quick und knows noddings ov der cow more." 

Another jolly Woodvillian, who tips the beam at 250 pounds, was whirled 
through the church at a lightning rate and pitched upon the roof of a house. 
He managed to swim and wade to the shore, where willing hands stood read}' 
to assist him. Rejecting every proffer of aid, on the ground that others needed 
it much more, he contented himself with the exclamation : 

" Boys, I came through that church quicker than hell could scorch a feather !" 

A woman eighty years of age, nearly dead from confinement and exposure, 
was taken from beneath a lot of rubbish in this church on Monday evening. 
The old lady lay three days and three nights under the load, in quarters as 
cramped as those furnished Jonah in the interior of the whale. She revived 
and in a few days had regained her wonted strength. 

The building has been repaired and the faithful clock ticks as of yore, 
but two or three hundred of the devout members assemble no more at the 
summons to the services of the sanctuary. 



136 



THE STORY OF JOHNS TO J I 'X. 



A few rods away, on the south corner of Locust and Jackson streets, was 
St. John's Catholic church. The congregation was ver}' large, liberal and 
well-to-do. The water damaged the building and drove against it the brick 
house of David Cover, which stood on the northeast corner of the two streets. 
Maurice Woolf occupied part of the Cover building as a residence. Mrs. 
Woolf was baking and had a hot fire. When the house collided with the 
church both buildings caught from the stove. The scene was peculiar and 
terrible, with water surging half-way to the roof and fire consuming everything 
it could touch. A string of hose belonging to the Conemaugh Borough Fire 




T. JOHN'S CHURCH AFTER THE FLOOD AND FIRE. 



Company, which was found by some one, was put to good use in saving 
what adjoining property the flood had left. The chureh, the parochial resi- 
dence, the brick house of Andrew Foster and the remains of the Woolf 
dwelling were burned. The flames raged until midnight in the tower and on 
the ridge. Two walls fell and two were blown up with dynamite the next 
week to guard against accident. The bell — an ancient relic — was badly dinged 
and cracked by the blaze and the descent to the sidewalk. A temporary 
frame church has been put up on the rear of the lot, in which service 
was first held the third Sunday of June. St. John's was a spacious structure, 



FATE OF PASTORS AND CHURCHES. I -,j 

finished and furnished elegantly. Connected with the church and supported 
by it was St. John's Convent, a large brick building, on the corner of Clinton 
and Locust streets. The convent and schools, which 600 pupils attended, were 
in charge of the Sisters of Charity. Sister Mary Helena was Mother Superior, as- 
sisted by twelve Sisters as teachers. The convent was almost wholly demolished. 
The only part standing is a wing in which the chapel was located. To this 
apartment, where so often they had knelt in devotion, the pious Sisters fled 
for refuge from the flood. Gathering in front of the altar as the torrent bore 
off two-thirds of the building, they supplicated the protection of the Almighty 
Ruler of the winds and the waves. Every moment threatened to sweep away 
the tottering wing of the convent, but the sublime trust of these good women did 
not waver. Once the servant-girl retreated to the bay window in the rear and 
called for help. She might as well have tried to fly as to look for aid from any 
human source. A Sister drew her back to the altar and counselled her to 
exercise faith in God. All night the little band knelt in fervent prayer. On 
Saturday morning they emerged from their refuge to comfort the afflicted, to 
nurse the sick and injured, and to succor children who had been bereft of home 
and parents. Sister Ignatia, Sister Marie, Sister Genevieve, Sister Elizabeth, 
Sister Augustine, Sister Perpetua, Sister Marie Louise, Sister Agatha and 
Sister Ursula were the subjects of this remarkable experience. 

About eight o'clock in the morning friends of Mrs. Mary McNally, who 
died at Prospect on Thursday, escorted her body to this church for the funeral 
rites. During the requiem the water rose steadily. The carriages and hearse 
started for the Lower Yoder Cemetery, but could not proceed far and returned 
with the coffin, which was again placed in the church. It was there when the 
flood and the fire combined their efforts to destroy the edifice, but was not cre- 
mated. Some of the mourners, who did not go home as soon as the funeral 
was abandoned, were drowned in Johnstown. The singular conjunction of 
circumstances attending its destruction gave St. John's church great promi- 
nence in connection with the flood. 

Rev. D. C. Phillips, pastor of the Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Church, 
which was obliterated, reported lost from his congregation twenty-two adults 
and twenty-eight children under fifteen years of age. He and his family were 
at their house on Main street. After the wreck, Mr. Phillips chopped a small 
hole with a hatchet through the wall, between his house and J. A. Larkin&Co.'s 
jewelry store. Before he got the hole big enough to let himself and family 
through, he lost the hatchet. Then with his hands he tore the hole larger and 
obtained egress. After getting into the store of the Messrs. Larkin, the party 
found their way to the street and to a place of safety. 

The Welsh, a thrifty and industrious class in Johnstown, were heavy suf- 
ferers. Their Baptist church was badly damaged and a large proportion of 
its members drowned. The Welsh Congregational Church was destroyed. The 



138 



THE STOR Y OF JOHNSTO WN. 



pastor, Rev. E. W. Jones, D. D. , and his wife lost their lives. The body of Mrs. 
Jones was unearthed on the Point, but no trace of her husband has been discov- 
ered. Mr. Jones was a divine of unusual force, a polished scholar, a logical 
reasoner and a zealous promoter of the public weal. 



(( He tried each art, reproved each dull delay, 
Allured to brighter worlds and led the way." 



St. Mark's, the neat Episcopal church on Locust street, is a memory only. 
The rector, Rev. Alonzo P. Diller, and his wife and baby went down with their 
cosy home. The last seen of them was at an upper window. Mr. Diller had 




MRS. DILLER. 



MRS. JONES. REV. A. P. DILLER. REV. E. W. JONES, D. D. 



his wife and child in his arms, apparently ready to jump into the torrent. The 
house melted from sight and the water closed over them. Their bodies were 
found under strangely pathetic and peculiar conditions. Four Episcopal cler- 
gymen, who had been ordered to Johnstown by Bishop Whitehead, were work- 
ing about the ruins near Lincoln street when they came upon the bod}' of their 
late brother. Clasped in one rigid arm was the body of his babe, and in the 
other his wife, whose arms were about his neck. They were interred tempo- 
rarily on Prospect Hill. The deceased rector was highly respected and popu- 
lar. He belonged to the wealthy and influential Diller family of Lancaster, 



FATE OF PASTORS AND CHURCHES. 139 

where he was stationed before taking charge of St. Mark's in 1884. His wife, 
a lady of fine social qualities, was the daughter of Dighton Morrell, a prom- 
inent citizen of Henrietta, Pa. The congregation lost a number of active mem- 
bers, but the church will be rebuilt. The church established headquarters, 
the week after the flood, at the corner of Jackson and Main streets, under the 
care of Rev. Charles A. Bragdon, and rented a hall in the Hager block for 
Sunday worship. 

The church of the Evangelical Association sustained a loss of eleven 
adult members. Forty-eight families belonging to the congregation were 
washed out and the property of seventeen was entirely destroyed. Rev. F. 
P. Saylor, the pastor, was at Somerset, and his family narrowly escaped, saving 
nothing but the clothing they had on. 

The United Brethren, the Christian, the First Regular Baptist, the En- 
glish Lutheran, the Second Lutheran and the Reformed churches got off 
tolerably well so far as buildings are concerned. All have to lament a sad de- 
pletion in the ranks of the members. 

The Dunkard church, in Kernville, had one corner fractured by the Unique 
Rink, which sailed up Stony Creek with the back-water, and hit the house of 
God an unfriendly tap in passing. A freight-car traveled across the stream 
and struck another corner, dislodging a barrow-load of bricks. 

The Presbyterian Church was inundated three feet above the pews and 
the basement deluged with mud. The parsonage received a liberal dose, 
obliging the pastor — Rev. Dr. Beale — and his family to spend weeks elsewhere. 
The weather-beaten frame, the original church of this denomination, was 
ejected from its position behind the present brick structure and pummeled as 
soundly as John Knox thumped the pulpit of St. Giles three hundred years 
ago. Buildings around the Presbyterian property were swept away, causing 
an overplus of ruins. For weeks after the flood the church served as a morgue, 
bodies reposing on boards set on top of the seats in the auditorium. Nearly 
three hundred of the members were called to their eternal reward. This 
frightful thinning out has not deterred the congregation from prosecuting re- 
ligious work with renewed activity.. The clergy of Johnstown never lost hope. 
They knew the manly fibre woven into the character of the people would 
assert itself, and that "Ichabod" need not be the motto of the churches. 

On Wednesday afternoon, June 12th, the body of Frank Stadler. a young 
man whom everybody liked, was dug from the mud in the vestibule of the 
Presbyterian church. The discovery was a ghastly surprise, as workmen had 
been walking over the spot for ten days, not imagining the remains of a fellow- 
mortal lay beneath their feet. The swollen, discolored corpse was identified 
by a key-ring bearing the name of the owner. 

The First Methodist Episcopal Church has the most eligible location in 
the town, cornering on two central streets and fronting the Park. Its stone 



140 



THE STOR Y OF JOHNSTO WN. 



walls defied the power of the flood, and saved buildings in the neighborhood 
from utter extinction by breaking the backbone of the wave. The pastor, 
Rev. Dr. Chapman, describes the event graphically : 

' ' I was writing a sermon on the text, ' Man Dieth and Giveth Up the Ghost, and Where 
Is He ?' when interrupted by the rising waters. When the rush of the torrent came I saw a 
box-car from the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad station driven past the house, down Franklin 
street toward Main, with surprising velocity. A man was on top of it, who, just then passing 
under a shade-tree at the corner of the parsonage yard, seized hold of its branches and climbed 




INTERIOR OF THE FIRST METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH. 



into it. He was the agent of the road, who had leaped from the roof of a house to the car, and 
now from the tree climbed into the front window of the parsonage from the porch roof. As 
soon as I saw the box-car coming I exclaimed : ' The Reservoir has broken, ' which was the 
signal for all the family to run for the attic. 

.' ' Looking from the attic windows, I saw the row of frame houses which stood between us 
and Main street lifted up, whirled around, and then borne swiftly away. A minute later an Arab- 
ian jumped into the window without any clothes on except shirt, drawers and vest. Going to the 
window looking toward his late home, he kneeled down and counting his beads, crossed him- 
self and prayed loudly in his own language. We gathered in the attic, pale, affrighted and awe- 
stricken, expecting each moment to be swept away. We prayed, talked of heaven and of God's 
promises, and resolved to live or die together. 

"Our church, a large, substantial stone building, which cost, with lot, nearly $90,000, stands 
erect, without a crack in its walls, its tall, graceful spire still pointing to the skies. It is to its 



FATE OF PASTORS AND CHURCHES. 141 

massive size and strength that we owe the preservation of the parsonage and probably our lives. 
It stood directly in the path of the flood, which struck it principally in the rear. But inside it 
is very seriously damaged. The floor has been broken up and the center fallen into the cellar. 
The pulpit platform stands on end against the wall, the choir gallery is completely wrecked. 
The pews, tossed in every direction, are many of them broken, the cushions water-soaked and 
covered with mud, the windows so badly broken that new ones will be necessary, and the plas- 
tering ruined as high as the water reached, which is about eighteen feet. Some of the but- 
tresses have been broken off, but can be rebuilt. The lower story of the chapel is in a very di- 
lapidated state, and the large Sunday-school room above much injured. It is estimated that 
from $8,000 to $10,000 will be required to restore the church to the state in which it was before 
the flood." 

This grand church, which was the cause of splitting the great body of 
water that rushed down the Conemaugh, was doomed to destruction by dyna- 
mite. Such was the order issued by the Citizens' .Committee. The news 
reached General Hastings, who placed a guard around the building and warned 
off the vandals. The damage was repaired during the summer, Methodists 
in the Pittsburgh conference contributing the bulk of the funds for this laud- 
able purpose. 

Cambria's turn now! St. Columba's church, built by dint of unflagging 
perseverance and consecrated last year, is invaded. Altar, pictures, figures, 
holy emblems, seats and walls are broken and denied. Father Davin, his heart 
lacerated by the misery and ruin he cannot avert, is at the pastoral residence, 
to which the Sisters in charge of the parish schools had been conveyed, lest 
their frame house prove insecure. The outpouring of the dam was not ex- 
pected then, but the rains had made the Conemaugh uncomfortably neighborly. 
So Sister Raphael, Sister Flavia, Sister Rose Aloysia and Sister Rita were 
saved for farther usefulness. 

How the pastor labored with apostolic zeal these trying days ! His consti- 
tution was undermined and he reluctantly consented to visit Colorado. It was 
a sore trial for Father Davin to leave his afflicted people, but disease had 
seized him and he must seek a different climate. He died at Denver in 
September and his remains were brought to Johnstown. The funeral was the 
largest and saddest in the history of the community. "Mankind had lost a 
friend." One who knew the honored dead paid him this tribute : 

" On the 31st of May, that ever-memorable day on which so many people were hurled into 
eternity by the bursting of the South Fork dam, Father Davin sat in his office and watched the 
waters rising. He said that he had been told that the dam was giving away, but the rumor was 
circulated so often before that he paid no attention to .it. He saw the Conemaugh swell and 
overflow its banks, but this did not cause him to leave his post. 

' ' Finally the water rose to the parlor floor and he began to think something unusual had hap- 
pened. Taking a man with him, he went to the Sisters' school in water up to his waist, and car- 
ried the Sisters one after another to his own house. By the time this task was done the great 
volume of water had reached Johnstown and Cambria City. The rumbling and crushing of 
houses and trees warned the inmates of Father Davin's house to seek a place more secure, as 
the water was nearing the second story of his handsome house. 



142 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

" To the third story the whole party went, and there spent the night in frightful expectation 
that the worst would come every minute. Several times the house shook and the shrieks of the 
injured and dying, who were almost within arms' reach from the windows, were something ter- 
rible. Father Davin went to his second story window and, at the risk of his own life, saved 
two or three people from drowning by pulling them through the windows. 

"The horrors of that night preyed continually on Father Davin's mind, and partly broke 
down his constitution. The next night, when the waters had subsided, Father Davin sent all 
the people in his house to the hill for safety, but remained in the house himself. His home and 
church were partly destroyed, and two feet of mud left on the first floor. His first work after 
he could get out, which was about twelve hours after the dam broke, was to look after the in- 
jured and dead. 

"He threw the doors of his church open and turned the beautiful edifice into a morgue. As 
many as 125 bodies were in it at one time, and there was not an hour of the day or night that 
Father Davin was not consoling with the friends of the dead when they called to remove any 
one. In mud up to his knees, he paced from altar to vestibule, assisting in the removal of the 
dead bodies. 

"During the afternoon of Saturday, June 1st, he walked down to the banks of the Cone- 
maugh. Here he found three men robbing the body of a man unknown to him. Being quick to 
resent a sacrilege of this kind, Father Davin struck the villain on the head with his cane, stun- 
ning him. The miscreant soon recovered and dealt Father Davin a terrible kick on the side with 
a hob-nail shoe, from the effects of which he never fully recovered. 

"No sooner had Father Davin told some of his parishioners what had happened than they 
started in hot pursuit of the robber of the dead, but failed to find him, The effects of the 
assault laid Father Davin up for some time, and until the time he died he complained of it. 
During the excitement in Johnstown, Father Davin's house was thrown open to every one, and 
here many a weary worker found a night's rest. 

' ' The newspaper men were his favorites, and in his elegant home the knights of the pen found 
much needed rest at the finish of the day's labors. Several times Father Davin was advised 
after the flood, both by friends and doctors, to take a vacation, but this he steadily refused to 
do, giving as a reason that it looked to him like shirking duty when the wants of the people re- 
quired his presence. 

"A short time ago, however, he was prevailed upon to go away for awhile, and he went to 
Denver, where he died. The last words he spoke on leaving his house were to his sister Stella. 
As he was about to enter the carriage for the train, he said : ' I am afraid I did not leave quite 
soon enough.' 

" If a monument is to be erected to those who did noble work at Johnstown, and in their 
disinterested zeal for the public welfare forced themselves beyond the power of human endur- 
ance, Father Davin's name should be inscribed upon one of the most imposing the love of man 
for true heroes can design. He loved the humanity by which he was surrounded, and when 
that humanity was in suffering he gave up his life in an effort to ease their misery and to give 
them strength to bear the pain he could not alleviate." 

In the noblest sense Father Davin's was a martyr's end, and his shall be a 
martyr's crown. "Peace to his ashes." 

An image of the Virgin Mary, standing on a pedestal, was the one 
thing spared in the German Catholic church, Cambria. The rich robe was not 
even spattered. No stain was on the lace arid the flowers were unsullied. 
The .report that it was preserved by supernatural agency gained cred- 
ence. Bereaved women thronged to the church to pray and adore. The 



FATE OF PASTORS AND CHURCHES. 



14- 



priests disclaimed anything miraculous. The water had not reached the 
figure — "only this, and nothing more, " yet the story grew and magnified. 
Rev. D..M. Millar, in a private letter to a friend, wrote : 

" Lives saved, but all else gone. The accumulation of a lifetime engulfed in water and 
mud without one minute's notice. Self, wife and girl dragged from water twenty feet deep to 
roof of our own house while both were floating, by two men providentially thrown there, they 
know not how. With drenched clothes sat on roof in rain till water left attic after house had 
lodged in debris ; then got the trap-door to wet attic and sat on a narrow board all night and 
till afternoon next day, chilled to the heart, without food or drink, when by help from outside 
were taken out of second story window, over the tops of a hundred crushed houses to river, and 
rafted across to a steep, barren hillside, when, after great effort, we reached acquaintances, 
where we have been ever since, both bruised and injured, but not seriously. Eleven sleep on 
floor in one small bed-room, but still more comfortable than hundreds of others. We cannot 
get away yet ; will get to Conemaugh as soon as we can, but no passage way yet. Several 
members of Conemaugh church are dead, and a majority of the balance are bankrupt. Indi- 
vidual supplies cannot reach us safely yet, except by letter. Money is needed most of all." 

Although not settled over a congregation when bid "come up higher," 
one venerable minister is deserving of loving mention. No ordinary man was the 
Rev. George Wagoner, one of the 
oldest and most esteemed citizens 
of the desolated region. Born in 
Westmoreland county in 1826, he 
received a country-school educa- 
tion and careful instruction from 
his father, a man of very enlight- 
ened, progressive views, and an 
ardent Abolitionist. At 20 years of 
age George was licensed to preach 
in the United Brethren church. 
He gave the best years of manhood 
to the church, serving it in every ca- 
pacity to the close of his life. He 
was the oldest minister, in length of 
service, in the Allegheny Confer- 
ence. In 1850 he located at Johns- 
town. His occupation required 
frequent removals, but he always 
returned to the home of his choice, living there continuously since 1869. 
Intense application to ministerial work impaired his health and he was forced to 
desist from preaching in i860. Studying dentistry, he practiced this profes- 
sion in addition to performing much clerical work and looking after a mission 
church in Kernville. Conceiving the plan upon which the United Brethren 
Mutual Aid Society of Pennsylvania conducts its business of life assurance, 




REV. GEORGE WAGONER. 



144 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

together with the present officers he established its system and managed its 
affairs. He held the first policy the company issued, and was a Director from 
its organization in 1869. On the fatal day of the flood he and his wife and 
three daughters — Cora, Lizzie and Frankie — were in their home on Market 
street. Water surrounded the house and they stayed within doors. Music and 
converse whiled away the hours. They were contented and happy, unaware 
of the dreadful fate hanging over them. As the angel of death swept down on 
the mighty wave the sweet voices of the three girls were heard in joyous song 
floating through the misty air. Hemmed in by buildings they could not see 
the avalanche. Thus they were saved the agony which the knowledge of cer- 
tain doom must have caused. The house collapsed instantly and the pure 
spirits of its inmates were wafted to the presence of the Creator. Another 
daughter — Mrs. Emma Bowman — her husband and two pretty babes, who lived 
at Woodvale, were carried down the deadly current with their home. The 
bodies of six of Mr. Wagoner' s family have been recovered and reverently laid 
to rest in Grand View Cemetery. Three more are hid away somewhere in the vast 
mass of ruin which, with its harvest of missing ones, hallows every foot of the 
Conemaugh Valley to the Unknown Dead. The surviving members of the 
family are Clara H., wife of Dr. A. N. Wakefield ; George M. Wagoner, M. D. ; 
Mary J., wife of " Chal." L. Dick, esq., and Jessie F. ; wife of Mr. William H. 
Miller. Dr. Wagoner was distinguished for courageous maintenance of the 
right and his readiness to uphold the weak and deserving. Affectionate, con- 
genial and lovable, his was a model household. The fate of this estimable 
family is one of the most mournful tragedies of the Johnstown flood. 

Mrs. Veith, wife of a minister, was at George Heiser's on Washington 
street when the flood came, having been removed by her husband from their 
residence on the bank of the Stony Creek. Their house stands, but the 
Heisers, Mrs. Veith and all belonging to them are gone. 

Rev. James A. Lane saved his life by the exercise of remarkable presence 
of mind. He told the tale as follows : 

' ' After I was carried down a short distance by the raging torrent I got wedged in between 
two stumps of trees which held me fast for several hours. Then a large piece of wood caught 
in my suspender on my back and turned my head under water. I was almost helpless, and 
would have drowned in a very short time. Finally it flashed on me that my pen-knife was in 
my trousers pocket. I reached down, pulled my knife out, and cut my suspenders off, thus sav- 
ing my life." 

The counties south and west of Johnstown developed a new form of lib- 
erality which met with the financial approbation of the religious world. The 
proposition was that a united effort be made to rebuild all the churches of 
Johnstown, not allowing the people there to contribute. The movement started 
among the Presbyterians. Bishop Whitehead said that, so far as the Episco- 
palians were concerned, they proposed to rebuild without waiting for a popular 



FATE OF PASTORS AND CHURCHES. 145 

movement, but that the project was meritorious and would receive his cordial 
support. The Episcopal church cost $25,000. To rebuild it a fund has been 
raised by the churches of the diocese. The new church will not be as large as 
the old one, by reason of the fact that a large percentage of the congregation 
has been lost. The United Presbyterians, who had a book depository fed to 
the flood, opened a subscription in Pittsburgh toward renewing the establish- 
ment. The Rev. H. B. Grose, of the Baptist church in Pittsburgh, paid a visit 
to Johnstown to find out how the people stood. It will cost $25,000 to put the 
two Baptist structures to rights. Besides doing this it is proposed to pay the 
salaries of the Baptist preachers for one year. The help so freely tendered has 
enabled the various congregations to repair the churches that suffered least 
and in due time to replace those destroyed. 

A proposal has been favorably entertained which contemplates the erec- 
tion, in Grand View Cemetery, of a monument to the clergymen who perished. 
The idea may be carried into effect in 1890, probably by asking dime contri- 
butions from church members throughout the country, that large numbers may 
share in the work. 

" Peace to the just man's memory ; let it grow 

Greener with years, and blossom through the flight 
Of ages ; let the mimic canvas show 

His calm, benevolent features ; let the light 
Stream on his deeds of love, that shunned the sight 

Of all butheaven ; and in the book of fame 
The glorious record of his virtues write, 
And hold it up to men, and bid them claim 
A palm like his and catch from him the hallowed flame." 

The third Sunday in June was notable for the first religious services in the 
open air since the flood. Three ministers and Manager John Fulton, of the 
Cambria Iron Works, conducted Presbj'terian worship, large audiences as- 
sembling. Bishop Whitehead, of Pittsburgh, officiated for the Episcopalians, 
whom the inundation deprived of their fine edifice and rector, and other eminent 
clergymen assisted at union meetings. Father Trautwein, half whose flock 
perished, and Father Tahaney celebrated mass, the former in Cambria and 
the latter near the site of the Gautier wire works. Service was held at the 
corner of Main and Adams streets, at the Pennsylvania railroad station, at the 
foot of the pontoon bridge on the Kernville side, and on Prospect Hill. The 
general tenor of the sermons not only dealt with the great losses which the 
people sustained by the flood, but referred to the necessity of all the leading 
men and women striving to forget as far as possible their past hy their willing- 
nass to retrieve a competence for the future. The sermons, while divested of 
strict orthodox}', tended to lift the weight of woe that bore down the hearts 
and spirits of the willing Christian workers of the town. More impressive than 
the most elaborate ritual in a stately cathedral were these reverential, atten- 
tive gatherings of devoted listeners under the blue canopy, in the midst of their 
wasted homes and the bitter memories of the crowning tragedy of the century. 



1 46 THE STOR Y OF JOHNSTO WN. 

Grand organs did not thunder glad anthems, there were no hearers slumber- 
ing in cushioned pews, but hearty thanks for their safety went up from thou- 
sands of voices, mingled now and then with sobs for those over whom the 
grave has closed forever. 

The sun of Thanksgiving set on the Conemaugh in a driving snowstorm 
and the glare of the Cambria furnaces lit up the sky fitfully. Six months be- 
fore different lights illumed the valley — a blazing church at one end — the frag- 
ments of a thousand homes blazing at the other. From Decoration Day to 
Thanksgiving the cycle of Johnstown's tribulations runs. The accounts had 
been made up, the last bodies removed, the distribution of relief completed. 
Two thousand hearts had been desolated, and the day of praise for benefits re- 
ceived during the year was not universally observed. Many of the churches 
held services, which were moderately attended. Rev. John E. Bold, the new 
rector of St. Mark's — the building is a shed on stilts — did not refer to the flood. 
One of the hymns has this stanza : 

" Praise Him that He gave the rain 
To mature the swelling grain. 
For His mercies still endure, 
Ever fruitful, ever sure." 

The little choir sang it without a quiver, or a tremor, or a vocal suggestion 
of any kind that rain had not been entirely a blessing to Johnstown. Rev. Dr. 
Chapman, in the Methodist church, discussed the responsibility for the dis- 
aster, saying : 

" Could we expect God to put His hand in that crumbling bank and stay the floods, when 
through the folly of man God permitted this to occur ? It is a subject of wonder that He did 
not allow 10,000 instead of 5,000 to perish. We should be thankful for that. We should be 
thankful, too, for aid sent us from everywhere. " 

Impressive exercises in other churches marked the day. The Catholics 
indulged in congratulations that St. John's Convent, the first building of a 
public character to be re-erected, was occupied by Father Tahaney, and would 
be supplemented by a larger one for the Sisters who counted their beads that 
lonely night in the little chapel. Over the main entrance a large stone is in- 
scribed : 

Flood, May 31, 1889. j 

L Rebuilt 1889. § 

Thus passed the first Thanksgiving after the flood. If the saloons were 
freely patronized and business was not generally suspended, people turned 
their faces forward hopefully, grateful they had not yet been taken to the land, 
beatific though it be, 

" Where congregations ne'er break up 
And Sabbaths never end." 



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XIII. 



ADVENTURES AND ESCAPES. 



No Scarcity of Mishaps and Wonderful Deliverances — All Night in Trees — Hurled 
Under the Stone Bridge — Six Days Pinned in the Debris — A Box-Car as an Ark of 
Safety — Landed on the Telegraph Wires — Praying in an Attic — Wedding 
Guests Wading — Floating Long Distances and Reaching Shore — People Alive 
whom Friends Supposed to be Lost — Wrested from the Very Jaws of the Destroyer 
— Tales of Survivors that Almost Stagger Credibility. 



' Man is born on a battle-field. Round him, to rend 
Or resist, the dread Powers he displaces attend 
By the cradle which Nature, amidst the stern shocks 
That have shattered creation and shaken it, rocks. 
He leaps with a wail into being and, lo ! 
His own maker, fierce Nature herself, is his foe. 
Her whirlwinds are roused into wrath o'er his head, 
'Neath his foot roll her earthquakes, her solitudes spread 
To daunt him."— Lord Lytton. 



DVENTURES, some ludicrous and others serious, 
and escapes so wonderful as to stagger credibil- 
ity were almost necessarily part and parcel of a 
calamity so prodigious. Stories of mishaps more 
or less grave were by no means a rarity on Sat- 
urday. Friends greeted friends whom they sup- 
posed to be under the charred ruins of the 
bridge, buried in cellars or lying on the banks 
of the Conemaugh, and heard with bated breath 
of their astonishing deliverance. Daniel in the 
den of lions seemed not more certain of immed- 
iate death. Men and women are walking the 
ill-paved streets of Johnstown who, had they 
not been marvellously wrested from destruction last May, would be walking 
the golden streets of the New Jerusalem. Call it Providence, Luck, Fortune, 

I 49 




ALL NIGHT IN A TREE. 



150 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

what you please. How easily the brittle thread may snap, and yet how much 
a sentient being may undergo and — live ! 

On Thursday night Mrs. George Stantler, wife of a photographer, was 
taken from the wreck of a house on the Point. The body of a woman had 
been found near the residence of Henry Haws, which, when taken to the 
Presbyterian church morgue, was supposed to be that of Mrs. Stantler. Her 
son viewed the body and said that it was not his mother' s. The finding of the 
woman alive proved that he was right. Mrs. Stantler was lying in a cavity 
beneath a pile of beams and rafters, which held up the mass of ruins on top 
and prevented them from crushing her. She was unconscious and just breath- 
ing. Her hold on life was a very slender one, and it was feared she would 
die. When the news of her rescue, after six days and nights of exposure and 
lack of nourishment, spread through the town, hundreds of people crowded 
about the stretcher on which she was carried to see her. It was considered 
almost miraculous that she should have remained alive so long. The rain and 
cold were enough to kill her, without the bruises and wounds which she re- 
ceived during the flood. 

Mrs. Frank Malzi clung to the eaves of a house all Friday night, up to 
her waist in water, and was nearly dead when rescued next morning. A resi- 
dent of Conemaugh Borough caught a tree and spent the night on a fragile 
limb. His frail support threatened to topple every time a log or a section of 
a house banged against it. The percher had a wounded hand, which increased 
the difficulty of holding on with the tenacity required to prevent falling into 
the drink. He waded out on Saturday morning with a stiffness in his joints 
and a crick in his back that a centenarian would find it hard to rival. 

Mr. William Kuhn and Miss Daisy Horner were married at the residence 
of the bride' s parents on the evening before the flood. A number of the guests 
remained until the following day, when the water rose to the second story. 
All sought safety on the third floor. Here they spent a dreadful night, fear- 
ing every minute the building would be wrecked. The flood left the house 
intact, and the entire party were rescued next morning. The fine dresses, 
flowers and other mementos of the wedding were a strong contrast to the 
ruins over which the guests walked to places of safety. 

Dr. H. Phillips, of Pittsburgh, arrived in Johnstown on Memorial Day to 
visit his mother. Besides himself in the house were his mother, his brother- 
in-law and two nieces. Dr. Phillips was the only one who escaped death. 
He was rescued after being in the water seventeen hours. 

The wife of Andrew Baker, of Woodvale, was the only person who passed 
under the arches of the stone bridge. Reaching the bridge on the front wave 
of the flood, she shot through one of the arches with terrible velocity. 
Floating down the river, some men took her out at Coopersdale. It was at 
first thought she was. dead, but stimulants restored her, although she required 



ADVENTURES AND ESCAPES. 



15' 



constant attention through the night. The family left for Kansas a few days 
afterwards. Two of the children were drowned. 

Mrs. J. W. Stevenson and her two daughters were at their new home on 
Market street. They ran up-stairs and mounted a bed. It fell to pieces and, 
as the water pressed them up against the ceiling, they tore off the plastering 
and lath and made an opening through which they escaped to the attic. 
While thus engaged the building was riding like a vessel on the raging waters. 
It landed in front of Dr. Walters' residence on Vine street, and the ladies were 
taken into his house. 

Mrs. Harry B. Aaron, of Bedford County, with her daughter was visiting 
her sister, Mrs. Rinard Replogle. All fled up-stairs and the water followed. 
They hurried to the attic, Mr. Replogle leading the way, his wife and seven 
children clinging to him and to each other, and Mrs. Aaron and daughter 
bringing up the rear. At the east end of the attic were two windows. Mr. 
Replogle stationed himself at one and two of his children stood at the other. 
He called upon them to fall on their knees and join with him in prayer. Mrs. 
Aaron and her child knelt down at a bed about the middle of the room, while 
the others huddled together at the windows. Presently the house slightly 
raised from its foundation and tilted up at the east end. This lowered the west 
end, the water rushed in, and Mrs. Aaron and her little one sank beneath it. 
The Replogles were saved after a terrible experience. Mrs. Aaron and daugh- 
ter were found in each other's arms. 

Reuben Benson was in the most dangerous part of the district when the 
deluge swept down upon him. His parents were swept away and his wife 
and three small children perished. He was carried down as far as Nineveh, 
where he took refuge in a tree-top, in which he roosted all that night. 

Aubrey Parsons, his wife, two children, brother-in-law and sixteen neigh- 
bors were on the roof of his house when it floated away. The building was 
stopped by the Pennsylvania Railroad track, upon which Mr. Parsons placed 
his family. In a moment the section on which they were standing turned over, 
throwing all in the water. He managed to get on the track again and saw his 
children's heads between two ties, the bodies submerged up to their necks. 
He barely had time to release them when the track started away, but was 
caught by telegraph wires and the members of the family separated. Mrs. 
Parsons was pulled under by the wires and drowned, but the father succeeded 
in getting his children and brother-in-law on the wires. Then they jumped on 
logs and rafts and made their way to the blooming mill, where they remained 
till Saturday morning. After moving the children to a place of safety, Mr. 
Parsons began the search for his wife's body, which he found in the open- 
hearth works. One of the children was severely injured. 

Elis Driscoll, wife, two children and sister-in-law were floated on their 
residence, 22^ Main street, to the stone bridge, where Mr. Driscoll succeeded 



152 



THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 




CLINGING TO A BOX CAR. 



in getting them out of the water. The entire party were taken to the house 
of Wm. F. Jackson, in Brownstown, where in less than two hours Mrs. Dris- 
coll gave birth to a female child. Mother and baby survived. 

A thrilling escape was that of Miss Minnie Chambers. She had been to 
see a friend and was returning to her home. on Main street. The sudden rise 
in the waters caused her to quicken her steps. Before she could reach home, 

or seek shelter at any 
point, the waters had 
risen so high and the cur- 
rent become so strong that 
she was swept from her 
feet. Her skirts served 
to support her on the sur- 
face for a time. At last, 
as they became soaked she 
gave up all hope of being 
saved. Just as she was 
going under, a box-car that 
had been torn from its 
trucks floated past her. She managed by a desperate effort to get hold of it 
and crawled inside the open doorway. Here she remained, expecting that 
every moment her shelter would be dashed to pieces by the buildings and ob- 
structions that it encountered. Through the door she could see the mass of 
angry waters filled .with all manner of things. Men, women and children, 
many of them dead and dying, were whirled along. Several tried to get refuge 
in the car with her, but were torn away by the rushing waters before they 
could secure an entrance. Finally a man did make his way into the car. On 
went the strange boat, while all about it was a perfect pandemonium. Shrieks 
and cries from the thousands who were driven to their death filled the air on 
every side. 

Miss Chambers said the scene would haunt her as long as she lived. Many 
who floated by her could be seen kneeling with clasped hands and upturned 
faces, as though in prayer. Others wore a look of awful despair on their faces. 
Suddenly, as the car was turned around, the stone bridge could be seen just 
ahead. The man who was in the car called to her to jump out in the flood or 
she would be dashed to pieces. She refused to go. He seized a plank and 
sprang into the water. In an instant the eddying current had torn the plank 
from him. At it twisted around it struck him on the head, causing him to 
throw out his arms and sink, never to reappear. Miss Chambers covered her 
face to avoid seeing any more of the horrible sights. With a great crash the 
car struck one of the stone piers. The entire side was knocked out. As the 
car lodged against the pier the water rushed through it and carried Miss Cham- 



ADVENTURES AND ESCAPES. 153 

bers away. Again she gave up for lost, when she felt herself knocked against 
an obstruction. She instinctively threw out her hand and clutched it. Here 
she remained until the water subsided. She was on the Cambria Iron Works, 
and had been saved by holding to a pipe that came through the roof. That 
awful night she remained there, almost freezing to death, while enveloped in 
a dense mass of smoke from the burning drift. The cries of those roasting to 
death she heard plainly. On Saturday some men succeeded in getting Miss 
Chambers from her perilous position, and took her to the house of friends in 
Prospect.* With the exception of bruises, she escaped without injury. 

George Hartley was one of the few who got out of the Hulbert House 
alive. He said : 

" About five minutes before the crash came, we heard a whistle blow. Thinking it was for 
a fire, all ran up-stairs. I had just reached the second-story landing when the waters struck the 
building and the walls crumbled, penning the helpless guests in the ruins. As the waters rushed 
over my head I became fastened between the timbers, with no possible means of escape in sight. 
Concluding that it was perhaps the easiest way to die after all, I opened my mouth and pre- 
pared to meet my doom. Then the roof was raised by the angry elements. This released me 
from my precarious position, at the same time tearing most of my clothing from my person. I 
grasped the edge of the roof and, after pulling a man named Mark Benford out of the water, 
weak as I was, I managed to pick my way on the drift across Main street to the Fritz House. 
There Benford and I rescued a girl, who worked at Clark's notion store, and one of the Fritz 
House chamber-maids. We also rescued Mrs. Greiss, who worked in Weaver's confectionery, 
as we were gaining the upper floor of the Fritz House, where all hands were compelled to re- 
main for the night. " 

When the flood swept Clinton street, Misses Kate and Rose Spenger, 
Peter Wess and Charles Wess, the landlord and his wife were in the Fritz 
House. " Larry " Wess, brother of the landlord and bartender in the saloon, 
had left about two o'clock to take Jacob Bopp's children up to the hill. Mr. 
Bopp declined to let the children go, and "Larry" and John Kessler went 
alone, determined to be safe. When the Hulbert House fell it crashed against 
the Fritz and smashed in the whole front. Hornick's Keystone Hotel also 
floated against it. Mrs. Burggraf and four children, who had taken refuge in 
the Keystone, were carried into the Fritz House. So were John Hornick, wife, 
four children, and a servant girl ; W. H. Rosensteel and daughter, who floated 
on the roof of their house from Woodvale ; Frank A. Benford, of the Hul- 
bert House; J. L. Smith, the marble man, who was at the Hulbert; Miss 
Mary Early and another girl from the same hotel ; John Dorse)', a traveling 
man from Philadelphia, badly crushed ; Conrad Schnabel, who entered the 
building through the rear ; Alphonse Spenger, who was at the Keystone ; Mr. 
and Mrs. C. H. McAteer, a countrywoman and several others. All huddled to- 
gether in the rear of the third story, and all night long gazed out upon the fear- 
ful wreck in front of them. " It was a terrifying scene," said Mrs. Wess, 
'■and everybody in the building seemed to know their prayers that night." 
To add to the terror of the situation St. John's Church, but a short distance 



154 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

away, was in flames. Hornick's Hotel building caught twice, thus threaten- 
ing them with destruction by fire, but the flames in the Keystone were extin- 
guished both times. All escaped on Saturday morning. 

No building in town was better known than the "Old Arcade." For 
seven or eight years it had been owned by Charles Oswald, who kept a saloon 
in the north end. The roof of the Arcade carried Mr. Oswald, his wife, and 
five children, Wesley Horner, wife, and four children, and Mrs. John Spenger 
and her son Edward to the stone bridge. Mr. Horner, young Spenger, Mrs. 
Oswald and one son were rescued. , 

It is remarkable that all the blind people in Johnstown were saved. 
Among them were Mrs. Hohman, lame and infirm from age ; Mr. Edwards, the 
broom-maker, and Mr. Geist, the cigar-maker. Many very old people also 
escaped. Judge Potts, Charles B. Ellis, Judge Easly, David Peelor, William 
Cover, Hugh McGuire, Mrs. Sarah J. Morrison and Mrs. Magehan may be 
mentioned. Some of them had frightful experiences, but all were soon able 
to be about as usual. 

Mrs. Mary Levy and her two daughters had a close call. She is the last of 
the family of John Schell, who was the proprietor of a large landed property in 
Bedford county and laid out the village of Schellsburg. The residence was 
broken up and they escaped from roof to roof until rescued by friends, after 
remaining on the wreck one night and part of the next day. Although eighty- 
five years old Mrs. Levy stood the exposure well. Her daughters clung to her 
with loving care and tenderness. 

George Rinebolt's mother, aged eight}', resided on Chestnut street, Cam- 
bria. Mr. Rinebolt went down to her house while the water was rising on 
Friday forenoon. Fearing the house might be floated away, he secured a 
large rope and fastened one end of it to the building and the other to a large 
tree in front of the residence. Ever}' house about it was swept away, and one 
was thrown upon its side squarely against Mrs. Rinebolt's. Though moved 
about, it was held in place, and tree and house are still fast friends. 

Mrs Catharine Gaffney and her five children were floated from Cambria 
on the roof of their house. At Sheridan Station one of the children was 
rescued, a little farther down another, and so on until the raft arrived at a point 
between New Florence and Nineveh, when the mother, aged sixty-three years, 
was landed. 

Cohen & Marx were in their new storeun Bantley's building, Main street, 
trying to make their goods as safe as possible, when the big water came. As 
it rose they had to rise with it or drown. Up they went not far from the sky- 
light in the floor above, which they were compelled to break with their fists. 
Their hands were badly cut by the glass, buf they got out in safety. Mrs. 
Marx left her home on Walnut street and went to Mrs. Cohen's, on Lincoln 
street. Mrs. Marx, with her baby in her arms and followed by Mrs. Cohen, 



AD I 'ENTURES A. YD ESCAPES. I 5 5 

hurried up-stairs. The water pursued them and in a few moments was up to 
their waists. They got on the roof just as a higher house floated against 
theirs and the)' climbed upon it. Thence the)' proceeded along the roofs 
about a square, several times jumping gaps several feet wide, and once throw- 
ing the baby across a chasm. They spent the night on a house-top, and were 
taken off on Saturday afternoon. 

W. C. Lewis, of the Savings Bank, his wife and two lady friends were on 
the second floor of his brick dwelling when the upper side and rear portion fell, 
taking with it the platform for the stairway to the third floor. They searched 
for a way to gain that floor, as the water was fast approaching. To step on the 
hanging stairway appeared to invite death by falling into the water running- 
through the house. Being the only mode to get to the third floor, Mr. Lewis 
accepted the last chance and reached the stairway across the abyss. It held. 
He assisted his wife and the young ladies, and all were soon on the roof of Dr. 
Lowman' s house. Shortly what was left of Mr. Lewis' house fell. 

Owen Davis, clerk at the Baltimore & Ohio station, was busy about the 
freight warehouse. The water upset his work, himself, the freight building and 
the cars in the yard. Mr. Davis came over to Main street quite rapidly, and was 
taken in at the rear of George W. Moses' building. He had been struck a 
severe glancing blow on the head by a heavy timber and was covered with 
blood. There were no appliances at hand for staunching the flow. His com- 
panions believed he would die during the night from exhaustion, but he 
pulled through. 

Mrs. C. O. Luther and her daughter, Mrs. George Galbreath, her son-in-law 
and three children were at the Galbreath residence, corner of Market and Lincoln 
streets. Mrs. Galbreath had been confined two days before, and two of her 
children were in bed with the measles. The family were on the second floor. 
The water forced them against the ceiling until nothing but their heads was 
out of the liquid. The tender of an engine struck the house and split the roof 
open. This let the inmates out. They scrambled over and floated on roofs 
and debris until they came to the house of Dr. Walters, on Vine street. They 
were taken on the roof, which floated around with them for some time. Then 
the building settled down and they' entered the attic through a hatchway. 
There they remained until Saturday evening in their wet clothing, cared for by 
Doctor Walters and his family. Mr. Luther and his children were in safety on 
the hillside above Locust street. 

John C. Peterson, a small man, who lost his clothes and was given a suit 
large enough for a descendant of Anak, in a voice husky with emotion told me 
his sad story : 

" I'm the only one left ! My poor old mother, my sister, Mrs. Ann Walker, and her son David, 
aged fourteen, of Bedford county, who were visiting us, were swept away before my eyes and I 
was powerless to aid them. The water had been rising all day, and along in the afternoon 



156 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

flooded the first story of our house, at the corner of Twenty-eighth and Walnut streets. I was 
employed by Charles Mun as a cigarmaker, and early on Friday afternoon went home to move 
furniture and carpets to the second story of the house. As near as I can tell it was about four 
o'clock when the whistle at the Gautier mill blew. About the same time the Catholic church 
bell rang. I knew what that meant and I turned to mother and sister and said : ' My God, 
we are lost !' I looked out of the window and saw the flood, a wall of water thirty feet high, 
strike the steel works. They melted quicker than I tell it. The man who stopped to blow the 
warning whistle must have been crushed to death by the falling roof and chimneys. He might 
have saved himself, but stopped to give the warning. Four minutes after the whistle blew the 
water was in our second storj'. We started to carry mother to the attic, but the water rose 
faster than we could climb the stairs. There was no window in our attic. We were bidding 
each other good-bye when a tall chimney on the house adjoining fell on our roof and broke a 
hole through it. Then we climbed out on the roof and in another moment our house floated 
away. It started down with the other stuff, crashing, twisting and quivering. I thought every 
minute it would go to pieces. Finally it was shoved over into water less swift and near another 
house. I found that less drift was forced against it than against ours, and decided to get on it. 
I climbed upon the roof, and in looking up saw a big house coming down directly toward ours. 
I called to sister to be quick. She was lifting mother up to me. I could barely reach the tips 
of her fingers when her arms were raised up, while I lay on my stomach reaching down. At 
that moment the house struck ours and my loved ones were carried away and crushed by the 
big house. It was useless for me to follow, for they sank out of sight. I floated down to the 
bridge, then back with the current and landed at Vine street. I saw hundreds of people crushed 
and drowned." 

The adventures of H. W. Slick and wife, with those of his father and 
mother, were quite exciting and diversified. Their homes were on Stonycreek 
street, adjoining the wall which hems in the stream, considered an easy prey for 
the current which annually visited the town. Shortly after three o'clock on 
Friday the huge body of water crept over the porches. At four o'clock the 
families emerged from their houses and got aboard the dray wagon of W. S. 
Weaver. Two large horses were attached, driven by John Schnabel, and the 
wagon started for the hill. The contents of the reservoir, looking like an im- 
mense volume of smoke, struck them and turned the horses around, dashing 
them against a tree in front of the residence of Harry Thomas. All saw the 
poor animals in a struggle for life that ended in death. The human freight in 
the wagon was left in the branches of the tree. One of the innumerable build- 
ings carried away by the ocean of waters struck it, when it tumbled as though 
it were a match. Down the party came with a crash and landed in water up 
to their necks, grasping and plunging for something on which they might save 
their lives. An old stable chanced to stop. Under it Mrs. H. W. Slick was 
hurled and lost to view, but quickly came to the surface. The strong arm of 
her husband grasped her and placed her on the roof, where she evinced forti- 
tude that would have done credit to the bravest of men. Mr. Slick's father, 
George R. , an invalid, was seen clinging to the debris, wholly oblivious of his 
perilous situation. He was dragged to the frail roof of Mrs. Slick's mother, 
who sat by him from five o'clock that evening until noon of Saturday, the 



ADVENTURES AND ESCAPES. l c-j 

heavy rains dashing over them and no aid near. After the mowing down of 
many structures and the floating of the mass of buildings had ceased, H. W. 
Slick, his wife, William Price and several others left the stable which saved 
them and concluded to seek other and better quarters. After a hard struggle, 
in which the wife of H. W. Slick was bereft of her clothing, the}' reached the 
electric-light station, and climbed the ladder fastened to its side, thus gaining 
the roof. The whole front of the building yielded to the pressure brought 
against it. Those who were on the roof secured a foothold on the partially con- 
structed wareroom of Marshall & Weakland. Quarters there were considered 
unsafe. By throwing boards from one building to another, the entire party 
made their way into the third story of the Thomas building on Main street. 
There all remained the entire night, wet and cold, and witnessing sufferings 
which never can be related. They heard the shrieks and cries of people on 
all kinds of buildings and rafts. At intervals during the night Mr. Slick heard 
the cries of his mother for help, and endeavored, by cheering words, to have her 
worry through the severe agony, which she did to the wonder of all. Mr. 
George R. Slick died a few days afterwards, the exposure and fatigue proving 
too much for his enfeebled frame. 

The wife of the telegraph operator at Mineral Point — his station was 
across the creek from the village — gathered her children and started to run 
down the street. Remembering she had left the key in the door, she took the 
children and ran back. As they neared the house the water forced the mother 
and her little ones between the buildings. The only outlet was toward the 
mountain and they ran that way. The water chased them, but they managed 
to clamber up far enough to escape. Thus an accident saved four lives. 

A. J. Leonard, of Morrellville, hearing that his house had been swept 
away, determined to ascertain the fate of his family. Constructing a temporary 
raft, and clinging to it closely as a cat to the side of a fence, he pushed the 
craft into the raging torrent and started on a chase which, to all who were 
watching, seemed to court certain death. Heedless of cries '-For God's 
sake go back, you will be drowned !" he persevered. As the raft struck the 
current he pulled off his coat and in his shirt-sleeves braved the stream. 
Down plunged the boards and down went Leonard, but as it arose he was seen 
still clinging. A shout arose from the throats of the hundreds on the banks, 
who were now deeply interested, earnestly hoping he would successfully ford 
the stream. Down again went his bark, but nothing could shake Leonard off. 
The craft shot up in the air apparently ten or twelve feet, and Leonard stuck 
to it firmly. Slowly he worked his boat to the other side of the stream. After 
what seemed an age of suspense he finally landed, amid ringing cheers of men, 
women and children, and found his family safe. 

The stories of people floating a mile up the river and then back two or 
three times are easily credible, after seeing the evidences of the strange course 



158 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

- of the flood. People who stood near the ruins of Poplar Bridge saw four wo- 
men on a roof float up on the stream, turn a short distance above and come 
back, go past again and once more return. Then they went on the current to 
the lower part of the town and were rescued as the)' passed the second-story 
window of the school-house in Millville. A house from Woodvale traveled to 
Grubtown uninjured. On it was a man who lived near Grubtown, but was 
working at Woodvale when the flood came. He was carried past his own house 
and told people at the bridge to bid his wife good-bye for him. The house 

' passed the bridge three times, the man conversing with those on shore and giv- 
ing directions for his burial, if his body should be found. The third time the 
house went up it grounded at Grubtown, and in an hour the voyager was safe 
at home. 

' Henry D. Thomas, the dry-goods merchant, related the following story : 
" I was caught between a plank and a stone wall and held in that position a long time. 
The water came rushing down and forced the plank against my chest. I felt as if it were going 
through me, when suddenly the plank gave way and I fell into the water. I grabbed the plank 
quickly and in some unaccountable way managed to get the forepart of my body on it. In that 
way I was carried down the stream. All around me were people struggling and drowning, while 
bodies floated like corks on the water. Some were crying for help, others were praying aloud 
for mercy and a few were singing as if to keep up their courage. A large raft which went by 
bore a whole family, and they were singing, ' Nearer my God to Thee.' In the midst of their 
song the raft struck a large tree and went to splinters. There were one or two wild cries and 
then silence. The horror of that time is with me day and night. It would have driven a weak- 
minded person crazy " 

A man who was imprisoned in the attic of his house put his wife and two 
children on a roof that was eddying past and stayed behind to die alone. They 
floated up the stream and back, got upon the roof of the very house the}' had 
left, and the whole family were saved. 

When the Levergood brick residence on Bedford street was struck by the 
flood, it was occupied by Grandmother Levergood, her daughter Lucy, and 
Mrs. Ann Buck. The first two were drowned. Mrs. Buck, who is eighty 
years old, managed to get upon the roof and floated to Sandyvale cemetery, 
where she landed in a tree. Here she spent the entire night, during which 
she spoke to others in similar positions. On Saturday she was taken from the 
tree and cared for by her son, whose surprise and delight to find his mother 
living cannot be described. 

Mrs. Jane Cox lived on Railroad street, and John McDermott had his 
home with her. Mr. McDermott had been forced to wade about in the water 
at his store on Broad street, which was flooded before the deluge came. He 
left the store, went home shortly after three o'clock, and decided to refresh 
himself with a bath. While thus engaged Mrs. Cox called to him that there 
was great excitement on the streets, that people were running hither and 
thither, and that something more than usual must have happened. Mr. Mc- 



ADVENTURES AND ESCAPES. 



159 



Dermott advised her to take the children to a place of safety. Neither she nor 
her family would leave without him. He at once began to dress, but suc- 
ceeded in getting on only his underclothing and pants when he heard the 
crashing and roaring. Dashing down stairs, he led the way, with his little 
daughter, up Railroad street to Malzi's alley, through which they ran to the 
hill. The water was so close upon them the advance wave of the flood struck 
some of Mrs. Cox' s children a short distance from the house and nearly swept 
them off their feet. 

John Burket, his wife and four children were in their house on Washington 
street, opposite the Company store. The Woodvale bridge struck the house 
and destroyed it, separating the family. Mr. Burket was rescued at the rolling 
mill, badly injured. Two of the children were taken out on Kernville Hill. 
Little Frank had an arm broken in two places. His life was saved by little 
Jessie, fourteen years old. Two children were lost. Mrs. Burket was carried 
past the stone bridge and down the river. She was under water several times, 
but retained her presence of mind. Two miles above New Florence her raft 
struck a tree, into which she managed to climb. Without a stitch of clothing 
on, she spent the night in the branches. Next morning she was rescued and 
taken to a house near by. She did not get home until Wednesday. Her fam- 
ily thought, of course, that she was lost, and hailed her return as one risen from 
the grave. 

James Davis, the photographer, lived on Iron street, Millville. He had re- 
mained at home on account of rheumatism. When the water got dangerously 
high in the afternoon — the family having already been driven to the second 
story — Mr. Davis said he would swim to the railroad embankment and build a 
raft. He had got ahout half way when he noticed the water rising rapidly 
under him. He looked around and saw his house lifted up. It was too late 
to turn back, so he continued on to the embankment and thence escaped to 
Prospect Hill. His wife and three young children were lost. 

Cornelius Burns, at the risk of his own life, rescued twenty-eight persons. 
He was approaching the river near Cambria when the flood came. He dashed 
into the water and continued his gallant work of rescue until completly ex- 
hausted and prevented by the floating debris from saving others who floated 
beyond his reach. 

Mr. and Mrs. and Miss Maggie Shaffer kept a boarding-house on the cor- 
ner of Main and Market streets, a locality that was terribly ravaged. How the 
family and some of the guests fared was told me by one of the latter : 

" Miss Maggie called us to follow her out of a back window on the porch-roof, whence she 
led the way through a window of a three-story brick house with a mansard roof, the property 
of Mr. James. We stood in the gutter of the mansard. I cannot begin to give an idea of the 
awful scene. Some were crying, some screaming at the top of their voices, some saying good- 
bye, others praying and one said the end of time had come. Others were clasped in each other's 
arms and had given up entirely. I could hear persons at a distance, among them little children, 



j5o THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

shouting for help, amid the tremendous noise and cracking of the buildings that were falling to 
pieces as they drifted towards us. To increase the horror, half a mile above us the wire mill 
had been running in full blast. The waters coming so suddenly upon it created a steam that 
made the air dark, like clouds sweeping the horizon. About this time a house struck the one we 
were on. A young man named Felix Bard was on the other side of the window. He and I 
jumped to the roof of the one that struck ours. It knocked the brick walls down and then the 
mansard roof fell. We stepped over on the flat tin-roof, and commenced our journey down to- 
wards the stone bridge. There were thirty-eight persons on the roof and in the attic of the 
mansard of the house. When the brick walls were knocked away the roof floated. Strange 
to say, not one of the thirty-eight perished. We did not have a long voyage — not more than 
two squares. The reason was the water seemed to divide. We floated around a while and set- 
tled down a quarter of a mile above the great bridge. The bridge might have been the means 
of doing a great deal of harm, but I think it saved our lives. It was the cause of forming an 
eddy just where our house and many others landed. When the roof of our house stopped most 
of the people went into the large brick building owned by General Campbell. They made their 
way on the debris, got on the roof, and from the observatory into the house. 

' ' After the waters went down I took an opposite direction, and saw Mr. Frazer in the 
garret of his own house looking out of the hatch-hole. I went in. His wife and a boy were 
there. The little fellow was crying as though his heart were broken. Mrs. Frazer was as com- 
posed as if she were sitting in her parlor. I remarked to her that she seemed to be very 
resigned. She said she was not in the least alarmed ; her life was in the hands of her Maker, 
and He would take care of her and do what was right. I shall never forget the lady's peaceful 
expression. Mr. Frazer told me to look out of the window at a brick house and notice if the 
waters were receding. They were falling, and presently I got on the roof of another house. 
Hearing some noise between the houses, I saw a man's head pop up through the drift. He was 
held by two logs and made every effort to extricate himself. The logs kept rolling and he 
could not get out. I went down to the end of the roof, caught him by the hand and held him 
until help came that I summoned as soon as I could. All this time I was supported by a snow- 
break on the edge of the roof. Finally we succeeded in landing him safely on the roof. The 
stranger wiped the water from his eyes, coughed and spit, drew a long breath, looked up and 
said quietly, ' This is a devil of a flood, ain't it ?' Praying was more in order than swearing, 
but no one resented the remark. 

' 'The balance of the evening I was kept busy getting out persons both dead and dying. 
Into the Club House we took the bodies. I went in the direction of a call for help and found 
a woman fastened in the debris, in an upright positiou. Her head, shoulders and arms were 
above the water. I tried to pull her out, but could not. Two men came, but still we could not 
move her. She begged for God's sake to get her out. Her head fell from one side to the other. 
She was too weak to hold it up long at a time. We began taking some of the drift away, and 
found that she was in bed. I caught hold of something I thought was bed-clothing and pulled 
a dead woman out of the water. We laid her on the bank. A trunk was standing near and 
some one took out a slouch-hat and placed it on my head. I had no hat or shoes, and it was 
very cold and raining. We tried our very best to get the woman out, but could not. I was 
completely exhausted, got sick and had to go. The others stayed and at last brought the 
women to the club-house. She soon died. 

"I am a mechanic, work at my trade and have three children that are dependent on me. 
My wife died two years ago. What clothing and effects we had were lost in the flood. I had 
nothing after the flood, but we are very thankful we escaped with our lives." 

John Stenger, dry-goods merchant on Main street, lost his sons, John, aged 
twelve, and Leo, aged three. Five girls from Linton's laundry, back of his 



ADVENTURES AND ESCAPES. 



161 



store, John Carr, Henry P. Derritt and others were saved in his building, which 
was badly wrecked. 

C. N. Barclay, of Altoona, who had been working in the office of the Johns- 
town Democrat for some time, wrote the adventures of himself and his cousin 
H. W. Storey, esq., and family, at whose house the flood caught him : 

"I was not in my office when the crash came, but was several squares down town. I went 
down before 9 A. m. to help my cousin take his carpet and furniture up-stairs, as had been done 
on former occasions when the river overflowed. The high flood struck us about 4:15 p. m. We 
ran to the third floor, and the water came to'within two feet of where we were. Our house had 
moved from its foundation about fifty feet, when it was stopped by a counter current. It held 
there until the railroad embankment gave way and the water fell and let us down to the ground. 
I don't think I shall ever care about going boating again. The water was about nineteen feet 
around us, and we had to remain up there until about ten o'clock the next forenoon, when I 
made my way out from the trap-door on the roof down over other buildings and debris, under 
which there was still one to ten feet of water. I took a boat at the corner of the Club House 
building and rowed to the Pennsylvania railroad station, from which point I succeeded in 
reaching Ebensburg at 6 p. m. on Saturday." 

Mr. Hoerle and Frank .McMullin were in the Herald office on the second 
floor of the brick building, corner of Main and Bedford streets. The)r ran 
down the back way and found Mr. Slick attempting to put his wife on a horse. 
Helping the lady into the saddle, they started up Main street towards Green 
Hill. Slick concluded to return for a favorite dog and was never more heard 
of. The two printers and Mrs. Slick reached the hill in safety, though not be- 
fore the pony was swimming and the men wading up to their necks in water 
and drift. 

Forty persons were rescued at the late General Campbell's mansion, 
lower end of Vine street, as they floated past, by catching ropes thrown to 
them. The Cambria Club House was a similar haven of safety to a score of 
floaters. The members of the club were at dinner, but cheated death by flee- 
ing to the upper floors and the roof. Colonel Higgins, the manager, was in the 
third story of the building with his family. A man was hurled by the torrent 
through the window. He was attended, swooned, and upon inspection was 
found to have a broken leg. The leg was bandaged and the man resuscitated. 
When this last act of kindness was accomplished he said faintly : 

"This ain't so bad ; I've been in a blow-up !" 

E. B. Entwistle, of the Johnson works, rowed .to. a house near the flaming 
debris at the bridge, and found a woman with a broken arm and a baby. After 
she had got into the boat she cried, "Come along, grandpap. " An old man, 
chilled but chipper, jumped up from the other side of the roof, slid down into 
the boat, and ejaculated with imperturbable coolness : 

"Gentlemen, can any of you give me a chew of tobacco ?" 

W. A. Rose, a prominent attorney, and his family went to the second floor 
of their house about two o'clock. When the water rushed for the residences 



I 62 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

on Main street they retreated a story higher. Distress was apparent on all 
sides. A sick neighbor appealed for a stimulant and was handed a cup of 
coffee on the end of a broom, a gulf that could not be passed separating her 
from the Roses. By this time houses began to crumble and vanish. The roof 
gave way, scattering the family and fastening Mr. Rose between heavy timbers, 
which fractured his right collar-bone and compressed his breast-bone. As- 
sisted by his youngest son, Percy, he succeeded in again reaching his own roof. 
There he witriessed the apparent death struggles of his wife and daughter, 
utterly helpless to assist them. Lying outstretched on the roof, with his family, 
a little waif and a domestic, he sailed near the Kernville Hill. Another roof 
■ came up alongside which they boarded, and were taken up Stony Creek. 
The Unique Rink came flying along and all resigned themselves to their fate. 
Mr. Rose exclaimed, "This means death." A log hit the rink and veered it 
into another channel. Then a friendly current forced them in the rear of the 
residence of Dr. Swan, whence they made their way into the house. Winter, 
the second son, at the risk of his own life, carried Mrs. Reese, seventy-one 
years old, from a dangerous place to a safe one. The oldest son, Horace, drifted 
away from the remainder of the family. After an eventful experience he was 
taken, almost exhausted, from the debris into the house of Frank Coleman. 

Three girls had their clothes torn off while struggling in the water, and were 
thrown on the bank above the stone bridge. They hid in the rubbish until 
Saturday night, when hunger overcame their maiden modesty and forced them 
to call to some men for assistance. Food and clothing were obtained and the 
trio taken to a shelter. 

Henry Ludwig, of Bedford street, sent his three children to the residence 
of his parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Ludwig, on Main street, while he and his wife 
remained to lift carpets. August Young, Henry's brother-in-law, had also taken 
his wife to her parents' home, and he and Charles Ludwig went down to Henry's 
house to assist. They had arrived but a short time when the water came 
rushing along, drowning all the inmates and carrying the house to the Point. 
John Ludwig and son George were in their store on Washington street en- 
deavoring to keep goods out of the wet. They saw the mountain of water roll- 
ing down the valley, ran up-stairs and managed to get upon the roof, which 
immediately parted. They clambered to the roof of Frank Hay's brick build- 
ing, none too soon, for the structure melted and the roof floated away to Locust 
street, where George was taken off. He saw his father float away and thought 
he would be killed, but after jumping from raft to raft the old gentleman finally 
landed close to the residence of Dean Canan, on the South Side, and was res- 
cued. Not until Saturda}' afternoon had the famity any idea that the father 
had been saved. 

John Shultz occupied a two-stor}' frame house on Union street, a short 
avenue intersecting the lower part of Main. The household consisted of nine 



ADVENTURES AND ESCAPES. 



I6 3 



persons. Six of them were in the building when it moved off, but all were saved. 
A large tree hit the house amidships, transfixing it as a javelin might a man. 
The building turned over, carrying the tree with it, the roots sticking thirty 
feet in the air. In this shape it stranded on the Point, at the end of Main 




TREE THROUGH THE HOUSE OF JOHN SHULTZ, LOWER END MAIN STREET. 



street, beside a number of other houses that presented a queer spectacle. 
These buildings were hopelessly damaged and fire was used to clear away the 
accumulation of rubbish. The tree gave the Shultz house a curious appear- 
ance which attracted throngs of visitors and brought dozens of cameras to 
perpetuate it in photographic form. 

In the upper part of the town, where the back-water went into the valley 
with diminished force, there were many of these odd scenes. Houses were 
toppled over one after another in a row, and left where they lay. One was 
turned completely over and stood with its roof on the foundations of another 
house and its base in the air. The owner came back and, getting into his house 
through the window, walked about on his ceiling. Out of this house a woman 
and her two children escaped with little hurt, although they were planted on 
their heads in the whirl. From another a woman shut up in her garret escaped 
by chopping a hole in the roof. A Hungarian named Grevins leaped to the 



164 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

shore as his house went whirling past, fell twenty-five feet upon a pile of metal 
and escaped with a broken leg. Another came all the way from Franklin, 
circled around with the back-water and finally landed on the flats near the 
corner of Main and Market streets. 

Thomas Magee, cashier of the Cambria Iron Company's store, described 
the manner in which he and his fellow-clerks escaped from the water, saved 
the money-drawers and rescued nineteen people : 

"It was 4.15 o'clock when the flood struck our building with a crash. It seemed to pour 
in from every door and window on all sides, as well as from the floors above us. I was stand- 
ing by the safe, which was open, and snatched the tin box containing over $12,000 in cash, and 
with other clerks at my heels flew up the stairs to the second floor. In about three minutes we 
were up to our waists in water, and started to climb to the third floor of the building. Here we 
remained with the money until Saturday morning, when we were taken out in boats. Besides 
myself there were in the building Michael Maley, Frank Balsinger, Chris Mintzmeyer, Joseph 
Berlin and Frank Burger, all of whom escaped. All Friday night and Saturday morning we 
divided our time between guarding the money, providing for our own safety and rescuing people. 
One man, in trying to jump, fell into the water and was saved only by the greatest exertion 
and his own skillful swimming. We threw out ropes and gathered logs and timbers together un- 
til we had enough to make a raft, which we bound together with ropes and used in rescuing peo- 
ple. During the night we rescued Henry Weaver, his wife and two children ; Captain Carswell, 
wife and three children, and three servant girls ; Patrick Ravel, wife and one child ; A. M. 
Dobbins and two others whose names I have forgotten. Besides this we cut large pieces of 
canvas and oilcloth and wrapped it around bread and meat and other eatables and threw it or 
floated it out to those who went by on housetops, rafts, etc., whom we could not rescue without 
getting our raft in the drift and capsizing. We must have fed one hundred people in this 
way alone. The money we guarded until Monday night." 

James B. O'Connor and John Knuff were on Washington street, noticed 
the water beginning to rise and ran into Lamberd's saloon. The water broke 
open the door and flooded the floor. All hastened to the roof. O'Connor 
and Knuff floated away on the kitchen, landing against Dr. Andrew Yeagley's 
house. The end of the building fell in and they climbed upon the roof of the 
adjoining residence, Dr. B. L. Yeagley's. Thence they contrived to get to the 
Beantly building, after a severe struggle in the water. A large number of 
men and women had gathered who spent the night huddled together, suffering 
severely from the cold. Man}- of them had scarcely any clothing. Of the 
thirteen persons who took refuge in Lamberd's place, only one — Miss Joanna 
Lamberd — was drowned. Her sister and others of the party were rescued at 
Alma Hall, and some got out at Dr. Lowman's. Mr. Knuff lost his gold watch 
and a roll of bills. 

Frank Benford's dun mare was standing in the alley between the Hulbert 
House and John Hornick's hotel. Parties on top of the Fritz House saw her 
submerged and buildings passing over her. To the surprise of all she was 
found on Saturday morning in the mire and wreck that filled the cellar, with 
no injur}' but the blinding of both eyes. Such an escape no other horse ever 
had since the days of Bucephalus. 



ADVENTURES AND ESCAPES. 1 65 

Professor Johnson, superintendent of the public schools, was at Mrs. 
John B. Hay's house, corner Walnut and Locust streets, with his brother and 
young Mr. Hay. The Professor was held by two floors catching him on the 
temple until carried down to the bridge and up along the hillside. One of the 
floors, yielding to some pressure, released him. With the aid of Mrs. Hay 
and his brother, who obtained a foot-hold on a piece of roof, he escaped to 
the side of the hill. 

John C. Carney resided on Franklin street, opposite the Mansion House. 
Earl)' in the afternoon he and his little family removed to the three-story build- 
ing of Joseph Beiter. High water soon drove them to the roof, and when the 
great wave came the building was twisted to pieces. The part Mr. Carney and 
his family were on was swept on top of a large pile of debris that had col- 
lected at the east end of the Baltimore & Ohio depot, and they were rescued 
through the second-story window of the Democrat office. Mr. and Mrs. Carney 
and two children, and Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Beiter and two children were taken 
in. Mr. Belter's leg was broken, and he was severely injured by timbers in the 
water. One of his children was dead. After the Carneys had been safely 
landed they missed their baby, a girl fifteen months old. On Saturday, eight- 
een hours afterward, the baby was found on the pile of debris at the office 
alive and well, and placed in the arms of its almost frantic mother. 

George Irwin, of Hillside, Pa., was found, on Saturday, in a clump of 
bushes beside the railroad tracks, a mile below Johnstown. His tongue pro- 
truded from his mouth and he gasped for breath. Brandy revived him and he 
was soon able to give this account of his adventures : 

" I was visiting friends in Johnstown. We were submerged without a moment's warning. 
I was taken from the window by a druggist, Mr. Hay, but lost my footing and fell into the 
water. I clung to a saw-log until I struck the Cambria Iron Works, where I caught on the roof 
of the building. I remained there an hour, when a piece of raft knocked me from my position. 
I floated on it until I got down here and stuck in an apple-tree. I saw one woman and two chil- 
dren floating nicely until they hit the corner of a building and all sank. I would rather have 
died than to witness their agony." 

Miss Sue Caddick, of Indiana, was stopping at the Brunswick Hotel, on 
Washington street. She said she had a premonition of danger and tried to get 
Mrs. Murphy to take her children and leave the house. The lady laughed at her 
fears and partially dissipated them. Miss Caddick was standing at the head 
of the second flight of stairs when the flood burst upon the house. She 
screamed to the Murphys — father, mother and seven children — to save them- 
selves, ran up stairs and got into a higher room with the children, the oldest 
of them a girl of fourteen. The mother and father were whirled to death in- 
stantly and the children clung to Miss Caddick. To save herself, as the build- 
ing was disintegrating, she was forced to thrust them aside. They all drowned, 
except the oldest boy, who floated to Blairsville and landed in a tree. Miss 
Caddick held to a fraction of the building, which floated out of the swirl, and 



I 66 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

was saved before dark. She described her grief at having to cut loose from 
the children as greater than her fear after getting into the water. 

William Dougherty rode down the river on a stick. When the waters 
struck the roof of the house on which he had taken shelter he jumped astride 
a telegraph pole, riding twenty-three miles, from Johnstown to Bolivar, before 
he was rescued. 

Mr. Walters, an attorne)', who spent the night in Alma Hall, has his office 
on the second floor of the building. He was at his home, Walnut street, with 
his family, and all were carried away. The family drifted on the roof in an- 
other direction, and he passed down several streets and alleys until he came 
to the hall. His raft ran against that building and he was thrown into his own 
office headforemost. 

James Norn, an old gray-haired man, had just sat down to eat his supper 
when the crash came. The whole family, consisting of wife and eight children, 
were buried beneath the collapsed house. He was carried down the river to 
the railroad bridge on a plank. At the bridge a cross-tie struck him with such 
force that he was shot clear upon the pier, a mass of bruises and cuts from 
head to foot. He refused to go to the hospital until he found the bodies of 
his loved ones. 

John Henderson, his wife, mother-in-law and three children succeeded in 
getting upon some drift, after their house carried them quite a distance. Mr. 
Henderson took the babe from its mother' s arms, but it soon died from cold, 
and he had to drop the corpse into the water. The aged mother-in-law was 
fragile and expired. Mrs. Henderson, who had been separated from her hus- 
band by a dashing wave, kept with her two children for some time. Finally 
a great wave dashed them from her arms and out of sight. They were cling- 
ing to some driftwood, and providentially driven into the arms of their father, 
who was down the stream unconscious of the proximity of his loved ones. 
Another whirl of the flood and all were sent into Stony Creek and carried by 
backing water to Kernville and rescued. Mrs. Henderson had nearly the same 
experience. 

Dr. Holland, a physician on Vine street, saw both of his children drown. 
They were not washed out of the building. He took them in his arms and 
bore them to the roof. Composing himself, he kissed them and watched them 
float away. The bodies were recovered. After their death the father was car- 
ried out into the flood and to a building, in the window of which a man was 
standing. The doctor held up his hands. The man seized them, dextrously 
slipped a valuable ring from one finger and brutally threw him out into the 
current again. The physician was saved and looked long for the thief and 
would-be murderer. 

J. Paul Kirchmann, a young man, boarded with George Schrceder in the 
heart of the town. The house toppled and went rushing away in the current. 



ADVENTURES AND ESCAPES. 167 

There were seven in the party and Kirchmann found himself wedged in be- 
tween two houses, his head under water. He dived down, again came to 
the surface and got on the roof of one of the houses. The others had pre- 
ceded him there, and the house floated to Sandyvale cemetery, a mile away, 
where all of them were rescued. Kirchmann had fainted, and for seven or 
eight hours was supposed to be dead. 

A little boy and girl came floating down from East Conemaugh. The 
water turned the raft toward the Kernville hill. As it struck the bank the boy 
jumped on the hill, dragging his little sister with him. Both were saved. 

William H. Rosensteel, the Woodvale tanner; was in the house with his 
two daughters, Tillie and Mamie, his granddaughter and a dog. All were 
carried down on the kitchen roof. They floated into the Bonton clothing 
store, on Main street, a mile from their house, where they stayed until taken 
out on Saturday. 

Jacob I. Horner, of Hornerstown, and his family of eight, climbed into a 
tree and remained there all night. Their house was overturned. 

Miss Wayne, of Altoona, who was visiting at Conemaugh, had a miraculous 
escape. Every article of her clothing was torn from her by the furious flood 
during her struggles in the water. She was rescued near the bridge. There was 
no female apparel at hand, and she had to don trousers, coat, vest and hat 
until suitable garments could be procured. 

At the house of Edward H. Jackson, 58 Market street, besides himself 
and family, were his uncle, aunt, sister and two children. They watched their 
chance and when a house passed by jumped upon it. By careful manceuver- 
ing they managed to reach Dr. S. M. Swan's house, a three-story brick build- 
ing, where there were about two hundred other people. Mr. Jackson sprang 
upon a tender of an engine as it floated down, and reached the same house. 
All the women and children were hysterical and most of the men paralyzed. 
From the windows of this house ropes were thrown to persons who floated by 
on roofs. In this way several were saved. 

A German woman, whose name could not be learned, ran to the roof of 
her house for safety. The house was carried away and the lower portion 
crushed as if it had been an egg-shell. Below the stone bridge it struck an- 
other roof, on which were a rooster and a hog. The rooster sat on the peak 
of the roof, as stately as a general leading an army to victory. At Nineveh 
both roofs were dashed high up on the shore and woman, hog and rooster were 
taken off safe and sound. 

Workmen of the Baltimore & Ohio railroad, clearing away a pile of refuse 
that enveloped several freight cars, encountered a stable. It belonged to the 
priest of St. Columba's Church, Cambria. As the waters fell away and the 
mass settled, the stable sank under the cars. When it was at last cleared, a 
man went in and found a cow calmly chewing her cud and gazing stolidly at 



1 68 THE STOR 1 ' OF JO HNS TO WN. 

the floor, which still remained solid. In the same stall were a small black dog, 
a Plymouth Rock rooster and two hens, all alive and none the worst for their 
voyage. 

Miss Ida Fahnestock, of Pittsburgh, came to Johnstown on Memorial Day 
to visit the family of Mr. Boyd. The house of the Boyds was swept away, the 
entire family clinging to the roof. They and Miss Fahnestock were saved by 
climbing through the window of a school and remaining in the third story until 
rescued in boats on Saturday. The Boyds escaped unhurt. Miss Fahn- 
estock was slightly injured. 

George W. Hamilton and family were at their home, 122 Locust street. 
The first Mr. Hamilton knew of the bursting of the reservoir was hearing a 
roaring sound. He looked out the window and saw what appeared to be a 
great wall coming toward him. The family ran to the rear of the house and 
climbed upon a porch roof. This roof broke away and floated to the Club 
House, against which it struck. Then it veered into Main street and went to 
Anderson Walters' house on Lincoln street. From there, after the wreckage 
stopped moving, the Hamiltons clambered to the Morrell Institute. "Bole's 
Row," which stood opposite the Turner Hall on Clinton street, and floated 
back of the Institute, was one of the first buildings to come sailing from up 
town. It struck the Institute building at one corner, knocking out a few bricks, 
swung around and rested. There were 175 people in and on the Institute 
building during the night, and many more were brought to it on Saturday 
morning. 

The tragedy will furnish a rich field for writers of fiction. Persons who 
are living to-day may have made the confusion and loss of life a pretext for 
disappearing. How many people, ignorant of the fate of their loved ones, 
will go to their graves with the hope that some day the familiar faces will 
again be seen ? How many hidden misdeeds and lives on the verge of an 
abyss were swept out of time and away from exposure by the swirl of the cruel 
waters ? The possibilities are unlimited, and there could be no stronger 
climax than the rush of the torrent down the Conemaugh valley. What a 
field for Dumas or Victor Hugo ! 



XIV. 



HEROISM IN VARIED FORMS. 

Imitators of Jim Bludso and Banty Tim not Unknown — Numerous Gallant Rescues — 
A Negro Saves a Child — Families and Friends Taken off Floating Houses — He 
Stayed to Sound the Warning — Boy Heroes — Faithful Dogs — Tramps with Gen- 
erous Souls — Men and Women Who Stuck to the Post of Duty — Telegraphers 
Whose Services Deserve Unstinted Honor — Redeeming Traits Exemplified Under 
Trying Conditions by a Host of Nature's True Nobility. 



" The dam dissolves, the ice-plain growls, 
The floods dash on, the water howls ! 
'I'll bear thee, mother, across the swell, 
'Tis not yet high, I can wade right well.' 
She places the mother safe on the shore ; 
Fair Susan then turns tow'rd the flood once more. 
'Oh, whither? Oh, whither? the breadth fast grows, 
Both here and there the water o'erflows ; 
Wilt venture, thou rash one, the billows to brave?' 
' They shall and they must be preserved from the wave !' 



-Gcethe. 




EROES adapted to the exigency are generally on hand when 
a crisis arises. It was so at Johnstown. Had it not 
been the death-roll would bear the names of hundreds 
of people who are alive and well to-day. Jim Bludso 
and Banty Tim are not myths, figments, mere fancies 
of the poet's brain. They crop out continually in 
real life. Theirs are the deeds which shed lustre on 
humanity and merit a place on the scroll of fame — a 
niche in the temple of honor. The heroism that, 
forgetting the perils it incurs, braves imminent danger 
"" for the sake of others, is a redeeming quality. The 
flood developed the occasion to manifest it in varied 
forms, sometimes unexpected, often unobtrusive, but 
always worthy of emulation. Eternity alone will 
reveal the bright array of self-sacrificing deeds performed when the dark 
shadow enveloped the Conemaugh Valley. There was neither time nor dis- 

171 



A CHILD RESCUED BY A NEGRO. 



172 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

position to enter on earthly books the deeds of greatness which conferred the 
stamp of nobility upon many a generous spirit. On the tablets of human sym- 
pathy and in the everlasting archives they shine resplendent, as well those all 
traces of which the water washed away as those repeated from lip to lip. 

Harry Koch, a saloon-keeper, and George Skinner, a colored man, were 
on the roof of the former's premises, near the end of Bedford street, by the 
bank of Stony Creek. Their situation was not an enviable one. The African 
remarked to his companion : 

" Massa Koch, dis yer mout be a good time to done gone an' pray, but I'm mos' feared it 
am too late !" 

Shortly a house sailed towards them, with Max McAchiver and Gertie, 
the little daughter of John Quinn. Mrs. Geis, with her babe, Libbie Hipps 
and Gertie had run to the attic of the Geis house. They prayed and Mrs. Geis 
said they would die together. Gertie tells it in her own artless way : 
"Then the plaster 'gun to turn off and the water wuz jess all over!" 

She caught hold of a plank, got on it and floated to Bedford street. Mc- 
Achiver lifted her from the plank to a floating roof, which drifted near Koch 
and Skinner. The latter called out : 
"Throw her to me !" 

Max did so, and Skinner resolved to swim with the child to dry land. 
Plunging into the water, he supported her with one hand and struck out with 
the other for a safe spot. After a severe test of muscle, the brave negro had 
the satisfaction of restoring Gertie to her friends. George has a black skin, 
but his soul is white, and his heart is exactly in the right place. Uncle Tom's 
rescue of Eva was not more gallant and praiseworthy than Skinner' s heroic 
action. 

Jacob L. Caldwell showed himself possessed of the qualities of which 
heroes are made. He had taken refuge in the upper part of his house, on Stony- 
creek street, with his family. When he saw the buildings coming he seized his 
wife and child and leaped from the attic window to a passing roof twelve or 
fifteen feet below. A jam occurred and he picked his way, with his precious 
burden, to the roof of the electric-light building, a part of which collapsed just 
as he reached it. From there he got to John Thomas' building and all were 
saved. Dr. William Caldwell and wife, Jacob's father and mother, and Miss 
Bertha Caldwell had almost a similar experience and were saved in the same 
building. 

When the wall of rolling water struck Miss Minnie Faulkner's home she 
was thrown into the stream, but managed to grasp a window-shutter, on which 
she floated for some distance. Suddenly she heard her name called. Looking 
across a short expanse of turbulent water she saw her affianced husband, George 
Bernheisel, floating on the roof of a house and motioning to her. After divest- 
ing himself of his superfluous raiment, he plunged into the flood, and by a 



HEROISM IN VARIED FORMS. 1 73 

desperate effort reached his lady-love and brought her safely to shore. They 
clung together until Saturday morning, and in a few days joined hands together 
to battle in the flood-tide of life. 

At the house of Charles H. Wehn, 41 Napoleon street, fourteen persons 
were taken into the attic by members of the family and rescued. A Miss 
Jones, who was badly burned in the fire at St. John's Catholic Church, was 
among the number. Mr. Wehn was at the Tribune office with the rest of the 
force. 

Charles Horner, aged eighteen, employed at Harry Swank's machine shop, 
blew the whistle as a warning to residents of the Fourth Ward. He continued 
the good work until the fires were extinguished by the water and the building 
floated a square away. Then he coolly walked from raft to raft until he 
reached a place of safety. A number of people saved their lives by fleeing to 
the hills upon hearing the whistle. 

Robert McCauliff, an employ^ of the Pennsylvania railroad, removed his 
family to a place of safety before the catastrophe, and had gone back to attend 
to his work of watching at the stone bridge. He was caught in the flood. 
While endeavoring to get to land he saw a babe about eight months old sub- 
merged under some rubbish and resolved to save it. Grasping a piece of 
scantling which was floating in the debris, and wielding it somewhat after the 
manner of an acrobat using his balance-pole, he kept himself and his burden 
from sinking by catching both ends on floating objects whenever he was 
thrown into the water. He finally reached the railroad embankment. For a 
couple of days no owner claimed the baby, and Mr. McCauliff began to think 
of adopting it, when Mrs. James, of Iron street, Millville, put in an appear- 
ance and recognized it as her child. The mother's joy was most affecting. 

Even nature's outcasts and the social parasites displa)'ed the traits which 
are the patent of true manhood and womanhood. A strapping tramp saw 
several men attempting to extricate the body of a woman held down' by the half- 
roasted carcass of a cow at the bridge. The tramp pushed the lighter weights 
aside and walked away with the obstruction. Then he picked up the corpse 
and carried it half a mile to the morgue. For days he worked among the 
corpses, scarcely stopping to eat or sleep. Blessed with herculean strength 
and a heart big in proportion, he was as kind to the living who called as ser- 
viceable to their dead. The tramp was named Martin. His conduct won 
him friends, who set him up in business in Johnstown. 

To another tramp belongs the credit of saving the lives of a mother and 
her little girl. This ragged nomad, against whom the hand of every man was 
turned, plunged into the angry waters near Lockport and deluded death of two 
helpless beings whom it had almost marked for its own. Mrs. Horner and her 
twelve-year-old daughter had floated from Johnstown to Lockport, five miles, 
on the roof of a house. The last vestige of the house parted and left mother 

Jio 



174 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

and child struggling with the waves. They grappled at a passing tree and both 
managed to clutch it. The mother screamed : 

" For mercy's sake, hold on, daughter, to the last ! If die we must, we will die together !" 

At this moment a tramp, watching from the shore, caught sight of the two 
forms struggling in the water. Heedless of his own safety, he plunged in and 
landed mother and daughter safe and sound upon the shore. He was a modest 
hero. While the wondering crowd were caring for the two whom he saved 
and discussing his heroism, he quietly stole away and was heard of no more. 
The tattered jacket often covers the warmest, bravest heart. 

Past a party of thirty or forty men, in Morrellville, floated a gray-haired 
old woman, clinging to a spar and loudly crying for help. After yainly beg- 
ging the men upon the banks to assist him, William Decker, a youth of twenty- 
one, tore the roof from a hog-pen and, using a couple of sticks for paddles, 
made for the centre of the river, from which he piloted the old woman 
safely to the land. 

A gay girl of the town, who had lived a life of shame for years, jumped 
from a roof to save a baby. She had just reached the child when a piece of 
timber struck her on the head and the poor creature sank beneath the waters. 
Who dare pronounce this Magdalen less a martyr than if she had served as a 
missionary roast at a cannibal feast ? 

D. H. Edwards, a freight conductor on the Pittsburgh Division of the 
Pennsylvania railroad, was halted at Sang Hollow on Friday evening. The 
attention of himself and crew was attracted by a boy clinging to a piece of 
square timber. An attempt was made to rescue him, but he was struck by de- 
bris and carried down the river some distance. Another and successful effort 
was made forthwith. He asked his rescuers to look out for his mother. 
Mr. Edwards saw her coming. Throwing one arm around a telegraph pole,, 
he extended the other toward her. Securing a firm hold of her he struggled 
to get her on land. A floating plank hit her on the shoulder, causing such a 
tension on Mr. Edwards' arms that both his shoulders cracked. Extending 
the arm he had around the pole so as to grasp with the other hand the arm 
holding the woman, he swung himself toward the shore. Two brakemen seized 
the lady, who was borne up the embankment and placed in the cabin of the 
train. A fire was built, coffee furnished the nearly-exhausted woman, and she 
was removed to a house. She said that the house in which she lived was on 
Clinton street. It was carried toward the stone bridge, where it was met by a 
receding current and carried up Stony Creek about a mile. A returning cur- 
rent brought it back and floated it near its original foundation. Nearly oppo- 
site the Baltimore & Ohio offices it crossed to the Conemaugh River, and was 
swept over the embankment between the bridge and the railroad tower. Then 
all on the roof of the house disappeared in the flood, and what became of them 
she did not know. How she managed to survive is a mystery. In the water 



HEROISM IN VARIED FORMS. 



175 



she succeeded in grasping two narrow boards and with one under each arm 
was carried on the surface of the wave. Where she secured these frail sup- 
ports she has not the remotest idea. 

Among the unwritten and unhonored heroes of the flood were "Bob." 
Dorsey King's spry black horse, and "Jack," a big Newfoundland dog. Each 
saved two human lives and his own. Bob, after floating off in his stable, got 
loose. Attached to his neck was 
a long halter with which he had '4 
been tied to keep out of mischief. 
Seizing this halter, one man was "^f 1 *^^^-^^^ — <. 
pulled by Bob to the shore. As 
if he knew what he was about, or 
because the shore was not easy to 
get up, Bob went back and half a 
mile lower down came out with a 
man on his back. Jack was seen 
to tow out at Woodvale a woman 
who clung to his shaggy mane, 
and on the edge of Johnstown he 
brought out a baby, holding it by 
its frock high up, as a retriever 
brings his game. A Newfound 
land dog at Morrellville plunged 
into the foaming, boiling torrent, 
seized a drowning man by the coat •• jack " brings a child to shore. 

collar and hauled him safely to dry land. The man had never seen the dog 
before and could not find out to whom the noble creature belonged. 

Henry Roberts, who lived near St. John's Church, lost one child two 
months old. He had in his house a Newfoundland dog, which was near the 
child when the fatal flood struck the house. The dog seemingly realized the sit- 
uation, caught the child and started to swim to land. The force of the waters 
washed the dog and child against the school-house, where they were held until 
the water began to abate. As soon as the animal could, he swam to the hill- 
side with the babe in his. mouth and delivered the dead infant to some people 
standing by. 

Charles Kress has a dog which he prizes highly since the riood. When 
the water reached their brick residence, on Washington street, the family took 
to the roof. The building was washed away, and great difficulty was exper- 
ienced in keeping upon it. Time and again Mr. Kress caught one or the other 
of his family just about to fall into the water, until Mrs. Kress dropped in be- 
yond his reach. Then the faithful dog, which had followed the family to the 




176 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

roof, caught her by the clothing and held her until she was rescued by her 
husband. 

Among the heroes of this disaster — and some of them swept off in the 
flood will never be known — John Stitt, a boy, should have a memorial in endur- 
ing granite. He was seventeen,' and worked in the Pennsylvania railroad 
machine shop at Blairsville. After helping to pull several people out at the 
bridge, he went to the shops and came back with a locomotive headlight. 
Standing on the bridge he turned it this way and that, not only saving many 
from being dashed against the bridge, or caught in the houses that cracked 
like egg-shells against it, but enabling others to get to the shore. Several 
times he was urged not to stay, but he kept his place and held the light, occa- 
sionally taking off his hat and sending up a cheer as he saw one after another 
safely reach the bank. Then a wave larger than the others came, there was a 
crash, and noble little John, still with his saving headlight, was washed away. 

Elvie, the bright little daughter of John Duncan, with her mother and two 
younger sisters, fled to the roof. A telegraph pole crushed the roof and threw 
the two children into the flood. Without hesitation brave Elvie jumped into 
the water, caught her drowning sisters and managed, by hard swimming, to get 
them to shore. The young heroine of this adventure received countless en- 
comiums for pluck and presence of mind which would have done honor to the 
manliest citizen of Johnstown. 

Joe Dixon, the wide-awake news dealer, who resembles Tom Thumb in 
size and build and aspect, was hoisted out by another lad, Edward Decker, just 
as the driftwood hurled his stand off its pins. Joe's father and infant sister 
were held between two houses by the upturning. Both houses were carried 
down against the bridge. In sight of his wife and children the father drowned, 
the water rising and smothering him because of his inability to get from be- 
tween the buildings. His wife was so badly crushed that she will be crippled 
the remainder of her days. The children, including the babe in its father's 
arms, were all saved. Friends in Pittsburgh, delighted with Joe's manly forti- 
tude, raised money to erect him a new store and stock it nicely. The sup- 
port of his mother and the younger children, he is a veritable hero in his simple 
daily life. 

Charles Hepenthal, aged 18, who lives at East Liberty, was on his way to 
school at Bellefonte. When the train was stopped at Sang Hollow by the flood, 
the passengers left the cars to view the rushing water. They saw countless bodies 
floating by and were utterly powerless to bring them to shore. A small frame 
house came down the stream and floated into the eddy nearly opposite the 
train. The passengers got as close to the house as possible and heard the 
faint crying of a babe. Young Hepenthal expressed his determination to res- 
cue the child. Attempts were made to dissuade him from what seemed to be 
a foolhardy act, but he persisted. The bell-cord was cut from the cars and 



HEROISM IN VARIED FORMS. 177 

tied around the body of the youth, who swam to the house, in a few minutes 
emerged with the babe in his arms and brought it to shore amid the cheers of 
the crowd. The child's mother was still in the house and he went to get her 
out. Procuring a railroad tie he made another trip to the house. After much 
difficulty the woman was landed safely. They had scarcely left the floating 
structure when a sudden surge swept it into the stream and it was soon out of 
sight. The mother and babe were well cared for and their brave young rescuer 
was the hero of the hour. 

Edward Dick, a young railroader living at Lockport, saw an old man float- 
ing on a tree trunk. The agonized face and streaming gray hair excited his 
compassion. He plunged into the torrent and brought the old man safely 
ashore. Scarcely had he done this when the upper story of a house floated by 
with Mrs. Adams, of Cambria, and her two children. He plunged in again, 
and while breaking through the tin roof of the house cut an artery in his left 
wrist. Although weakened from loss of blood, he succeeded in saving both 
mother and children. George Shore, another Lockport swimmer, pulled out 
William Jones, of Cambria, who was almost exhausted and could not possibly 
have survived twenty minutes longer in the water. 

Genuine heroism does not always exhibit itself in active deeds which chal- 
lenge applause by their magnificent daring. There is another form, not so con- 
spicuous, but surely not less admirable. Patient, undaunted steadfastness to 
duty is a rare and comely virtue. Those who, in the face of peril and even 
death itself, did not desert their posts were as certainly possessed of heroic 
qualities as the winners of battles. Mrs. Ogle, the operator in charge of the 
Western Union telegraph office, was one of this class. For twenty-eight years 
she had been faithful to the trust reposed in her. The office was located in a 
frame building next trie Public Library, on Washington street. Heart and 
brain were enlisted in her work. What messages of joy and sorrow her nim- 
ble fingers had dispatched and received during the years that make up nearly 
the average of life ! She had known vicissitudes and could sympathize with 
those to whom consolation is a soothing balm. On the day of the flood Mrs. 
Ogle sat at the instrument whose click meant so much. The waters rose above 
the floor during the forenoon. Friends begged her to leave, but she refused. 
News of washouts, detentions of trains and possible accidents was coming over 
the wires, with now and again a word of warning regarding the South Fork 
dam. To points below Johnstown the devoted woman repeated all such tid- 
ings, urging the operators to keep a sharp watch. At length the waters threat- 
ened to cover the table holding the little machine with the electric pulse. A 
few light touches of the key and these words flashed to the stations west : 

' ' This is my last message. " 

To stay longer in the room would be foolish and useless. The wires were 
grounding and in five minutes would be silent. Then the brave lady went up- 



i;8 



THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 



stairs, expecting to remain until the waters subsided. That she anticipated 
her last hour was at hand is most improbable. Her " last message " was, no 
doubt, designed to inform neighboring operators that the waters had interfered 
with the wires and rendered further communications impossible. Yet the fact 
that she preferred to stay at her desk until driven to an upper room, resisting 





*m 





the entreaties of neighbors to go with them out of the way of the rising tide, 
shows the exalted courage of Mrs. Ogle. The real flood descended two hours 
after she had been compelled to leave the office. The two-story frame build- 
ing was a speck on the wave. With it was borne the intrepid woman whom 



HEROISM IN VARIED FORMS. i 79 

long, competent service had endeared to the public. Mrs. Ogle and her 
daughter, Miss Minnie, perished together. Her sister, Mrs. Hirst, went down 
in the crash of the Public Library. The bodies of mother and daughter were 
found on the Point, close to the telegraph instrument that had ticked the last 
intelligence from Johnstown. 

Mrs. Ogle was the widow of Hon. Charles Ogle, of Somerset, whither the 
remains of herself and Miss Minnie were taken for interment beside the hus- 
band and father* The family lived many years at Somerset, where they had a 
wide circle of relatives and acquaintances. Mr. Ogle represented the district 
in Congress, acquiring celebrity by introducing the bill which abolished the 
service of gold-plate in the White House as at variance with the simplicity of 
a republican form of government. After his death the support of the chil- 
dren devolved upqn Mrs. Ogle, whom one son survives. He is the assistant- 
postmaster of Johnstown, and a young man of high character. His manly con- 
duct during and since the flood won him the warmest praises. It proved him 
to be a worthy son of worthy parents. 

Two other telegraph operators and three messenger boys were lost. The 
young men who rushed to Johnstown to manipulate the wires and satisfy the 
public hunger for details of the disaster were cast in the heroic mould. They 
endured privations without a murmur, fixed instruments in sheds, on barrels, 
anywhere and everywhere, that the stricken community might be in contact 
with the anxious, throbbing world. Night and day, in rain and sunshine, early 
and late they stuck by their keys and flashed what industrious correspondents 
could glean in the harvest-field of desolation and death. A gentleman repre- 
senting an eastern journal wrote of these noble fellows in this strain of well- 
deserved eulogy : 

"The flood wiped the telegraph lines out of existence for seven or eight miles through the 
Conemaugh valley, and damaged them all the way into Pittsburgh. Communication on the 
night of the disaster was restored over a few wires as far as Sang Hollow, three miles from 
Johnstown, but nothing like regular service was possible until the next day. Then operators 
were got as far as the south end of the railroad bridge, and linemen strung a few wires over 
wrecked poles, trees and houses to the same place. One of the four or five buildings left stand- 
ing near that end of the bridge was a small shed used once for a coal-bin, and later for the 
storage of oil. It was about ten by fifteen feet inside, and high enough for any ordinary man 
to stand upright in. There was a door which would not shut, and a square hole in one side did 
duty for a window. It was a very dirty, very damp and very dark hole, but it was the best that 
could be obtained, and within half an hour after reaching the spot the operators were at work in 
it. Boards set up on barrels, and other supports around three sides of the shed did for desks. 
Almost anything from a nail-keg to a piece of scantling set on end did for a seat. Seven wires 
were got into this shed by Sunday, and seven men were there to operate them, but it was 
rarely that over two or three of the wires could be got to work at the same time. The hasty 
manner in which they had been strung, and the continuous stormy weather kept the wires 
breaking down as fast as a force of linemen could find the trouble and fix them up. 

"When the newspaper men from the East began to arrive on Monday afternoon the wires 
wp.re working pretty well, but the operators who had been on duty for twenty-four hours, con- 



l8o THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

stantly sending press matter for Pittsburgh and private messages by the hundred, were com- 
pletely exhausted. New York men were the first to file stuff for the East. The chief operator 
groaned and the other operators writhed as they saw the matter begin to pile up, but they 
didn't beg off or even miss a tick at the prospect of twenty-four hours of solid work that loomed 
up before them. The worst that any of them did was to breathe a few heartfelt prayers for 
the eternal salvation of ' those plugs at the other end. ' The only grumbling, in fact, that was 
done during the whole of this long stretch of work was at the poor quality of the operators at 
the Pittsburgh end of the wires, whose incapacity, augmenting the unusually hard work, was 
something to set a first-class sending operator wild, and was the principal cause of what delay 
there was in sending press matter from Johnstown. 

' ' As darkness came on the trials of the operators were doubled. There was no light to be 
had at first, except from bits of candles set on end ; afterward one or two miner's lamps, and 
finally a real lantern and a naphtha torch were added io the illuminating properties of the office. 
All together they gave about as much light as two ordinary gas jets. The copy was written on 
all sorts of paper with all sorts of lead pencils, by all sorts of men, under all sorts of unfavor- 
able conditions. It was a weirdly variegated and distressingly illegible lot of manuscript. The 
operators were so exhausted that they could scarcely retain their seats on their rude benches 
and stools. They were so blinded by the poor light and the long hours of work that they could 
scarcely see the manuscript. The wires were heavy, and were grounded frequently by the wind 
and rain. Everything went to Pittsburgh, and the receivers there were a collection of excru- 
ciatingly chumpy chumps, speaking from a sending operator's point of view. Yet the stuff was 
sent off somehow or other, by far the greater part of it in time for use in the next morning's 
papers, and with an accuracy that, under the circumstances, was fairly wonderful. At five o'clock 
the next morning the operators were still at work upon some remnants of press stuff and 
upon the private messages which had been accumulating during the night. They gave out rap- 
idly, however, after that, and by six o'clock wandered off to find sleep in whatever corner they 
happened to drop down. 

' ' By six o'clock there was only one wire working, and the only man left able for duty was 
the chief, Jack Edwards, a little fellow with red hair, a red mustache, a freckled face, and a 
gritty eye. He may be pretty under the ordinary circumstances of civilized life, but that morn- 
ing, after forty-eight hours of work in that hole, with his clothes dirty and dishevelled, several 
days' beard on his face, and his eyes bleared with weariness and from the poor light, he was a 
pretty hard-looking customer. The only thing that was beautiful about him was his grit, and 
that was exceedingly fair to behold. In spite of the conditions under which he labored, he had 
got out of that old oil-shed during the forty-eight preceding hours more matter, probably, than 
had ever been sent in the same time by any seven operators in the employ of the Western 
Union Company. No man ever got more service out of the same number of wires than he got 
during these forty-eight hours out of the wires from Johnstown to Pittsburgh, and no man ever 
had poorer wires to work with, at that. Every moment, almost, the breaking down of a wire 
would necessitate a new combination of instruments and wires to keep things moving, and as 
fast as one combination was fixed up down would go another wire. The mere keeping of the 
wires straight would have been a tough job, but besides this Edwards was for most of the time 
receiving clerk, cashier, superintendent of the delivery service, battery man and chief lineman, as 
well as wire chief and chief operator. When not otherwise engaged he also worked a key himself, 
to take the place of an exhausted operator. The way in which he kept his head through all these 
manifold duties was marvellous. It was all in his head, for there were no other facilities to 
help him. There were not even hooks to hang messages on. Press stuff as fast as received 
was filed in the left pocket of his sack-coat ; private messages went into the right pocket. Nine- 
tenths of the press stuff was being filed a few pages at a time : from two to half-a-dozen men 
were filing stuff for each paper. To keep each paper's stuff together and to avoid mixing the 



HEROISM IN VARIED FORMS. l8l 

stuff of different men addressed to the same paper was alone a task worthy of an expert in hand- 
writing and human nature, for it takes extensive knowledge of human nature to enable a chief 
operator to tell, when a frenzied individual thrusts half a dozen pages of loose manuscript into 
his hand, ejaculates " Here's some more of that; get it off as soon as you can,' and rushes 
away, just at what point in a pocket stuffed with manuscript those particular half-dozen sheets 
are to be inserted. Clear grit and a cool head, however, carried Chief Operator Edwards and 
the acres of columns of special matter and hundreds of private telegrams safely through those 
first forty-eight hours, and that they did so was a mighty good thing for the press of the country 
and for the people who patronized the press. If he had ever got rattled and mixed things, the 
manner in which that pocketful of specials, always being drawn from, but continually kept 
as full as Fortunatus's purse, would have got into the various newspaper offices would have 
horrified the editors and have shocked the public, if the public had ever got a chance to read it, 
though the chances are that its condition would have been so appalling that no attempt would 
have been made to print it. 

"More operators arrived the next day, and things were a little easier for the men, but they 
still had to work at least twelve hours a day, to eat whatever they could pick up from the relief 
stores, and to sleep wherever they could find a place to lie down. Most of them hired a room 
in a small frame house near, and by lying close together, sardine fashion, seven or eight of them 
could sleep on the floor at once. As soon as the night men got up the day men took their 
places. That was the best bed any of them had for ten days after the flood. The office for 
that time remained in the oil-shed without any improvement in the facilities. The Pittsburgh 
managers of the Western Union seemed to have been completely paralyzed by the extent of the 
damage done to their wires by the flood. There was no reason why a decent office and com- 
fortable quarters should not have been provided in Johnstown within three days, while they 
could almost have built a new line from Pittsburgh in the time they took to fix up the old one. 
Higher officials of the company from Chicago and other cities finally arrived and took charge of 
matters. The lines were then quickly extended across the river and into the room that was 
cleaned out in the office building of the Cambria Iron Company. The oil-shed was then 
abandoned and the operators installed in comfortable chairs at real desks. 

"After the first couple of days Manager Munson, an old Western Union man, had charge 
of things in Johnstown during the day, but the bulk of the work, so far as press matter was con- 
cerned, continued to fall on Chief Edwards and his night gang, which was made up most of the 
time of Robert McChesney, assistant chief, and M. J. Chamley, George S. Fairman, N. F. 
Hunter, W. E. Record, William Buckholdt, Samuel Deering and R. J. Koons. " 

The newspaper men behaved splendidly, doing a service to mankind the 
full difficulty of which the busy, practical, hard-headed world did not stop to 
think about. It was the opportunity of a century, the biggest item in Amer- 
can history, and every paper in the United States realized its transcendent 
importance. The ablest writers were despatched at once to the flooded dis- 
trict, which it required no small effort to reach. How they printed the horrible 
particulars, keeping the public posted every hour of the day, is known wherever 
newspapers are read. But of the privations and endurance involved in pre- 
paring the glowing columns whose minutest details were devoured with feverish 
impatience few know anything. The occasion had come to put to the severest 
test the mettle of the press, nor were heroes lacking to use it to the best ad- 
vantage. Provided the facts be told, what matter that hardships be exper- 
ienced ? Little cared the pencil-pusher that his food was the coarsest, his seat 



1 82 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

the hard side of a brick-pile, his resting-place in the open air, his desk a coal- 
shovel ! The true newspaper man never fails to respond to the call of duty, 
and just then duty was summoning him with a trumpet voice such as earth has 
seldom or never heard. 

Who arrived first on the ground is a mooted point. The number claiming 
the honor is as great as the servants of Washington, or the survivors of Wat- 
erloo. The Harrisburg Telegram was probably the only outside paper whose 
representative happened to be on the spot. He was reinforced as quickly as 
writers and artists could get through. Wonderful celerity was displayed in 
traveling to the scene of horror. Special trains were chartered, wagons were 
hired, and no expense was spared to accomplish the prime object — penetrate 
Johnstown and send the news. Pittsburgh was the nearest city and its lead- 
ing papers rose to the emergency. One of the brightest of the young men 
from the Smoky City furnished this vivid sketch : 

" It was half-past five o'clock on Friday evening when the first news of the flood reached 
Pittsburgh. A number of queries were sent out by the different newspapers to several available 
points, asking for more definite information as to the extent of the flood and its destruction. 
When, after an hour's delay, a perfect flood of messages telling of the horror came over the 
wires to Pittsburgh, the keen discernment which always characterizes the newspaper man as- 
serted itself. A few minutes after seven o'clock the Dispatch and the Times had chartered a 
train, which went flying off in the direction of Johnstown. Charles S. Howell and Captain 
Montreville, of the Times, and L. E. Stofiel and James Israel, of the Dispatch, were on board. 
Almost at the same time W. C. Connelly, jr., of the Associated Press, together with the Com- 
mercial-Gazette, the Post and Chronicle- Telegraph, chartered a train, which followed immedi- 
ately. On this train were Parker L. Walter, of the Chronicle-Telegraph ; Frank X. Burns, of 
the Commercial-Gazette ; Robert W. Herbert, of the Post ; and H. W. Orr, chief operator of the 
Pittsburgh bureau of the Associated Press. This train reached Bolivar, twenty miles west of 
Johnstown, about 10:30 p. m., where the first train had stopped, locomotion being impossible 
farther. 

' ' It was pitch dark and raining heavily, but the men were there prepared to face any dan- 
ger to obtain the news for their respective papers. They had no sooner dismounted from their 
trains than they started in detachments across the mountains, some on foot and some in wagons, 
in the direction of New Florence, which was reached between two and three o'clock in the 
morning. Here they could see the reflection of the burning wreck at the stone bridge several 
miles up the valley. 

"After a journey of several miles in mud and slush, across ravines, up mountains, and 
down steep hill-sides, Messrs. Howell and Montreville captured a wire at New Florence and 
sent out one of the first messages that arrived in Pittsburgh from the devastated valley. Mr. 
Connelly captured another telegraph wire at New Florence, and found it intact. It was then 
that his forethought in bringing Mr. Orr with him to the scene proved invaluable. In a few 
moments Orr had the telegraph instrument attached to the patched-up wire, sending the news 
of the Associated Press to every city in the country simultaneously with the messages which 
Messrs. Howell and Montreville were lucky enough to get over the wires a short distance away. 
The Post, Commercial Gazette, and Chronicle-Telegraph reporters, finding the Dispatch in possess- 
ion of the office nearest to New Florence, wasted no time in scattering themselves along the line 
of the Pennsylvania railroad until they were able to send from different stations a rich harvest 
of the news gathered on the eventful trip over the mountains and up the valley at the dead of 
night. 



HEROISM IN VARIED FORMS. 1 83 

" Nearly all the morning papers in Pittsburgh issued extra editions until noon on Saturday, 
when the Press, Chronicle-Telegraph and Leader appeared on the streets with additional details, 
gathered by their representatives who reached the scene of the calamity before noon. It was 
not until late Saturday night that a wire could be put in operation from any point within sight 
of Johnstown. Then a single wire was of comparatively little use, considering the vast vol- 
ume of news that had accumulated in the hands of the indefatigable reporters. Hence they 
were compelled to travel for miles on foot down the valley to different stations between Johns- 
town and Bolivar to send their messages. 

"When Johnstown was finally penetrated, a coal-shed on the hill-side above the stone 
bridge, where the drift had accumulated and taken fire, furnished temporary quarters for tele- 
graphic headquarters. A brick-kiln near by furnished shelter, if such it might be called, for 
the reporters, who carried on their work for several nights and days without catching a single 
hour's sleep to renew their vigor, which kept constantly diminishing from want of food and 
rest, until several of them were compelled to end their labors from sheer exhaustion. A 
scanty supply of rations arrived on Sunday night, when the brick-kiln and pug-mill adjoining 
became the permanent working, eating and lodging houses of the newspaper men. 

"The Times and Press took possession of the first floor of the pug-mill, while the Associated 
Press and Chronicle-Telegraph established headquarters in the upper floor of the structure. The 
Dispatch and Leader took joint possession of an old wood-shed in the neighborhood, the Leader 
occupying it in the morning and the Dispatch during the afternoon and night. The Commercial- 
Gazette took charge of a section of a brick-kiln, and the Post joined forces with the Associated 
Press and Chronicle-Telegraph in the pug-mill. By this time the work of sending out messages 
from a permanent headquarters had commenced. It was a clear case of working under diffi- 
culties for all concerned. Slabs of fire-brick, perpendicular boards of the wall, barrel-heads, 
coffin-covers, shovel-bottoms — in fact, anything that could support their paper — were put to use 
as writing-desks. 

"The shaky floor of the old shed was full of ugly holes, and to enter the place in the 
darkness of night was to place one's life in jeopardy. John S. Ritenour, of the Post, fell twenty 
feet, wedging between timbers and so severely injuring himself that he was compelled to leave 
for home to secure medical aid. Sam. Kerr, of the Leader, was also on the brink of eternity, 
having fallen from the top of a house in the drift when the foundation began to give way under 
him. Had he not been rescued by one of his colleagues he could not have escaped drowning. 
Clarence M. Bixby, of the Post, while crossing the railroad trestle about one o'clock in the 
morning, fell through the gaps into the water below. A timely rescue saved him from a 
watery grave. His injuries were dressed by a physician who happened to be in the neighbor- 
hood relieving the sufferers at that time. 

' ' The culinary department was taken charge of by Tom Keenan, of the Press. With an old 
coffee-pot taken from the debris at the bridge, some canned corned beef, a few boxes erf 
crackers, a few quarts of condensed milk and a bag of unground ooffee, he was soon enabled to 
get up a meal for his starving comrades which was the envy of those in the neighborhood who, 
while hungry, did not belong to the band of scribes, whom they looked upon as a lot of 
luxurious revellers. 

' ' By Monday the force of telegraph operators at the press headquarters had been increased 
and by evening a number sufficient to establish night and day forces were at work. Food be- 
came more plentiful, and soon everything about the place had discarded the garb of hunger 
and famine, and the reporters and operators worked with renewed vigor and increased efforts. 
By this time the representatives of the Eastern and Western press began to arrive, while the 
Pittsburgh papers increased their force every hour. The New York Sun men got as far as Har- 
risburg over the Pennsylvania railroad. There they were compelled to turn back and reach 
Johnstown by way of Albany, Cleveland and Pittsburgh, one detachment coming by way of 



!34 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

Baltimore on a special train. The Herald, World, Times and Tribune reporters, together with 
the St. Louis Globe-Democrat men (who came from Washington), took the route by Chambers- 
burg, over the mountains of West Virginia, covering over one hundred and fifty miles in wag- 
ons. Busby, of the Chicago Inter-Ocean, got in on foot from Sang Hollow. Deering, of the 
New York Mail and Express, followed suit. Their experiences were varied and often quite 
amusing." 

The hardships and exposures of these trying days and nights sowed the 
seeds of disease in more than one of the enterprising writers for the press. 
F. Jennings Crute, a bright and brilliant wielder of the Faber, attached to the 
staff of the Philadelphia Press, contracted a cold which settled on his lungs. 
Consumption set in, ending the promising life on December 3d. Young Crute 
was a slight, fair-haired bo)' in appearance, gentle and tender as a woman, 
loved by all who knew him. His work could be classed with that of the oldest 
and most experienced. It was his incisive attacks that rid Philadelphia of 
many dens of vice. He laid down the pencil to go to the hospital, and died in 
the harness. 

The first issue of the Johnstown Tribune, after an interruption of two 
weeks by the flood, displayed the hand of a hero and philosopher at the helm. 
Mr. George I. Swank filled eleven columns with the names of the living who 
had registered, following with eight columns of " Identified Dead." A story 
full of pathos, told as only an eye-witness could of the catastrophe, commenced 
with these two plain, unaffected paragraphs : 

" Well, the reservoir came, and Johnstown went visiting. Some of us on very long visits 
indeed — never to come back. 

1 ' All that is left to most of us is the ground the town was built on, and even that is not the 
same." 

The employes of the Tribune were getting the paper ready for publication 
on the evening of the flood. The streams were already pouring down the 
valley and inundating the streets. The editor sat near his telephone, and as 
different incidents were reported he spread them on paper and they were soon 
in type. This matter, consisting of two columns, compiled on that ever-to- 
be-remembered Friday, appeared in the issue of June 14th, "each paragraph 
speaking," as Mr. Swank remarked, "like a voice from the dead." 

The citizens of Bolivar, Nineveh and New Florence did nobly. On them 
devolved the saddest tasks. Into their hands the Conemaugh had given up 
hundreds of its dead, and right reverently were they accorded the last rites of 
humanity. The labor and strain imposed on the small towns were tremendous. 
Their work was done without a grumble. Thus out of all the ruin and loss of 
property and life, and over all the agony which rent so many hearts, there rise 
clear and beautiful instances of heroism which prove, even in contrast with the 
depravity shown side by side with them, the nobility of human nature. 

Cora Moses, who used to sing in a church choir, sang "Jesus, Lover of 
My Soul," as she drifted away to her death amid the wreck. She died sing- 



HEROISM IN VARIED FORMS. 185 

ing it. There was only the crash of buildings between the interruption of the 
song of earth and its continuation in heaven. Another woman, whom the 
flood widowed, said : 

"I hunted a long time yesterday for the foundations of my little home, but they were swept 
away, like the dear faces of the friends who used to gather around our table. But God doesn't 
own this side alone ; He owns the other side too, and all is well whether we are here or there. 
You who are left living must go to work with a will. Be men, be women !" 

There were heroines whose deeds rivaled those of the sterner sex. On 
Tuesday morning laborers pulling over a vast pile of timber and miscellaneous 
matter on Main street found beneath the mass, which was as high as the sec- 
ond-stor)' windows, a young woman and a puny infant. The girl must have 
been handsome in the flush of youth and health. She had seized the helpless 
babe and endeavored to find safety by flight. Her brown hair was filled with 
sand, and a piece of brass wire was wound around the head and neck. A 
loose cashmere gown was partially torn from her form, and one slipper — a little 
bead-embroidered affair — covered a silk-stockinged foot. Each arm was tightly 
clasped around the baby. The rigidity of death should have passed away, but 
the arms were fixed in their position as if composed of an unbendable material 
instead of muscle and bone. The fingers were imbedded in the sides of the 
baby as if its protector had made a final effort not to be separated and to save 
if possible the fragile life. The faces of both were scarred and disfigured from 
contact with floating debris. The single garment of the baby — a thin white 
slip — was rent and frayed. The body of the young woman was identified, bat 
the babe remained unknown. Probably its father and mother were lost in the 
flood. 

Delicate ladies, nurtured in luxury, braved disease and danger, slept in 
sheds and attics and ate the roughest food that they might nurse patients 
whom the strain brought nigh the gates of death. Florence Nightingale, Emily 
Faithful and Elizabeth Fry had their counterparts in these gentle messengers 
of "goodwill towards men." Their soft touch smoothed the pillow of the 
dying, cooled the aching brow and chased away pain as medicine could never 
have done. Before their gentle presence vice and meanness cowered. They 
cheered the discouraged, comforted the bereaved, relieved the suffering and 
inspired the wavering. The depressed took courage, the despairing received 
a fresh stimulus to honorable effort. 

Children also exhibited heroic traits. Dr. James J. Fronheiser, General 
Superintendent of the Cambria Iron Works, lived on Main street. His house 
was one of the last to go, and he himself, his wife, two daughters, son and baby 
were thrown into the raging torrent. His wife and one daughter were lost. 
He, with the bab3', reached a place of safety, and his ten-year-old boy Jacob 
and twelve-year-old girl Mamie floated near enough to be reached. He caught 
Mamie, but she cried : 

" Let me go, papa, and save Jacob. My leg is broken and my foot is caught below." 



1 86 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

When he told her he was determined to rescue her, she exclaimed : 

" Then, papa, get a sharp knife and cut ray leg off. I can't stand it !" 

The little fellow cried to his father : 

"You can't save me, papa. Both my feet are caught fast and I can't hold out any longer. 
Please get a pistol and shoot me, but don't let me drown !" 

Captain Gageby, of the army, and some of the neighbors helped rescue 
both children. Mamie displayed Spartan fortitude and pluck. All night she 
lay in a garret, without a mattress, covering, medicine or attention, without a 
murmur or a whisper, the water reaching to the floor below. In the morning 
she was carried down stairs, her leg dangling under her, but when she saw her 
father at the foot of the steps she whispered to Captain Gageby : 
' ' Poor papa ; he is so sad !" 

Then turning to her father she threw a kiss with her hand and laughingly 
said : 

" Good morning, papa, I am all right." 

The plucky little thing got along handsomely and the boy suffered no ill 
consequences from his immersion. 

A poor woman and her little girl, four years old, stood idly on Lincoln 
street. Speaking to the child, she looked at me with staring eyes and said 
nothing. " She was born where that sand pile is," said the mother, pointing 
to a mound from which some bits of wood protruded, "and her father and two 
brothers are underneath it." Blinding tears checked her utterance. Then 
the dear child turned her face to the weeping parent and said : 

" Don't ky, mamma ; oo knows oo's dot me to love oo !" 

This was comfort, and the sorrowing woman smiled as she lifted her dar- 
ling in her arms and kissed her again and again. She was read}' to take up 
the burden of life once 'more for the sake of the one tie which bound her to 
earth. Ten rods from that spot a mother and a baby were found dead. In 
her effort to save the child the poor woman had bent her body over it, thus 
keeping the ruins from crushing out the infant life. But this was no hindrance 
to the water, which drowned both. 

One woman, after washing the corpse of her husband on Friday night, 
strove to forget her own great sorrow in ministering to others. Before Satur- 
day's sun rose she had prepared nineteen bodies for the tomb and spoken 
words of sympathy to scores of stricken mourners. The forms of heroism had 
no limit, neither were they confined to any age, or condition. These were the 
silver lining to the dark cloud, irradiating the desolated valley and pouring 
balm into thousands of despondent souls. 

Bless these heroic spirits every one ! 




Scenes in the Morgue and Graveyard on Prospect IHill. 



XV. 



DISPOSAL OF THE DEAD. 



Multitudes of Bodies to be Taken from the Debris and Interred — Improvised 
Morgues and Their Ghastly Tenants — Agonizing Spectacles — Rough Boxes for 
Unshrouded Corpses — Over the Hill to a Temporary Burial-Place — Hundreds 
Unidentified — Nineveh's Dismal Cargoes — Crazed by Grief — Final Removal. to 
Grand View — Coroner's Inquests — Where Sorrow Held Undisputed Sway — The 
Most Mournful Duty that Fell to the Lot of Survivors. 



" I've builded the houses that lie around 
In every nook of this burial-ground 

Mother and daughter, father and son, 

Come to my solitude one by one ; 
But come they strangers, or come they kin, 
I gather them in — I gather them in." — iPark Benjamin. 




[ HE MOST perplexing problem that ever taxed the 
human mind was the disposal of the multitudes 
of the dead at Johnstown. Three thousand 
corpses were tangled in the fragments of two 
thousand buildings, half -buried in cellars, strewn 
along the banks of the streams, lying in streets 
and yards and concealed beneath masses of rub- 
bish. Battles had been more destructive and 
had left greater numbers to be put out of sight, 
but the departed warriors lay on the surface of 
the ground and could readily be thrown into 
trenches. Here two-thirds of the bodies could 
not be extricated without vast labor, so entwined 
were they with the rubbish and the barbed wire 
from the Gautier mill. June had dawned and hot weather must breed pesti- 
lence. Faces of victims stared from every pile of refuse and glared at one from 
every heap of sand. Undertakers had been swept away with their wares, 

189 



BURYING HIS OWN FAMILY. 



190 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

funeral supplies were not at hand and no trains could get within miles of the 
town. The plague in London and the yellow fever at Memphis dwarf into 
insignificance beside such a combination of distresses and obstructions. Mathe- 
maticians can solve Euclid, and regiments of soldiers can speedily put a few 
shovels of earth over their fallen comrades. A million men could not in a day — 
or a week, for that matter — reach the mutilated, crushed, swollen forms which 
made a large percentage of the litter which had twisted and snarled and inter- 
laced the ruins of the Conemaugh Valley into complex shapes. Could a sit- 
uation be more ghastly ? 

Two or three dozen bodies were cared for on Friday evening, because they 
remained in buildings which did not float off and were easily accessible. The 
real work of taking them out began on Saturday morning. The school-house 
on Adams street, in the Fourth Ward, was selected as a morgue and to it the 
first bodies were conveyed. The same day Deputy-Sheriff James Williams 
opened one at Morrellville, and another was established in a planing-mill at Nin- 
eveh. On Sunday similar repositories were opened in the Pennsylvania rail- 
road station, the Presbyterian Church and in St. Columba's Church, Cambria 
Borough. Subsequently the station-morgue was transferred to the Millville 
school-house, which became the general morgue after most of the bodies had 
been recovered and the necessity for separate establishments no longer ex- 
isted. For many days bodies were plentiful as logs, the whirl of the waters 
putting them under the boards and timbers. The rigidity of arms standing 
out at right angles to the bloated and battered bodies showed that death, in 
ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, took place amid the ruins — that is, after 
the wreck of houses had closed over them. The bruising by trees and other 
debris, with exposure in the water or the open air, tended to hasten decom- 
position, making hast)' interment imperative. 

My first visit to the morgue in the Fourth ward — the onhy one yet estab- 
lished — was early on Saturday afternoon. Passing through the throng in the 
yard and the vestibule, fifty-three bodies were counted in the room on the 
right. They were stretched on boards along the tops of the desks. Next the 
entrance lay, in her damp clothing, the waiter-girl who had served my last din- 
ner at the Hulbert House, with another of the dining-room girls by her side. 
Some of the corpses were discolored by blows and badly cut, and others were 
frightfully contorted. The glassy e3'e-balls, open mouths and agonized ex- 
pressions presented a fearful spectacle. One sweet little girl of three years 
la)' on a desk, the wet clothes clinging to the tiny form. Her face resembled 
wax and wore a smile, just as if she slept peacefully in her bed at home. Many 
tears flowed at the sight of the lovely child cold in death, still so wonderfully 
life-like. Beside her lay a baby, and in the same room were ranged a dozen 
others of tender years. A few had been wrapped in cotton and all were 
washed clean. In the little room back, on a bench, reposed Samuel Eldridge, 



DISPOSAL OF THE DEAD. 191 

the one policeman who perished. A cloth-covered casket was at the door to 
receive his remains. A procession of visitors filed past constantly, trying to 
identify the bodies. Later the corpses were coffined and placed outside. 
Tacked to each coffin-lid, which was partly open that the face might be visible, 
was a numbered card with a description of the body — color, sex, height, weight, 
probable age, complexion, style of dress and articles found on the remains. 
Many were recognized and claimed by this means, while still more lay uniden- 
tified. What could appeal more touchingly to a compassionate heart than 
these upturned faces, so quiet and passionless, whom none knew or wept over. 
The} 7 suggested Browning's lines on visiting a "house of the dead " in Paris : 

" Only the Doric little Morgue ! 

The dead-house where you show your drowned, 
Petrarch's Vaucluse makes proud the Sorgue, 

Your Morgue has made the Seine renowned. 
First came the silent gazers ; next, * * * 
Last, the sight's self, the sermon's text, * * * 

Men who had lived but yesterday, 

Each on his copper couch, they lay 
Fronting me, waiting to be'owned : 
I thought and think their sins atoned." 

When a body was recovered men carried it on a stretcher to the morgue. 
On Saturday this labor had to be performed under great disadvantages, owing 
to the depth of water still remaining, the enormous mass of wreckage and the 
softness of the mud. Vehicles could not be employed, as the streets were 
effectually blockaded and four-fifths of the horses and wagons gone. Arrived 
at the morgue, the clothing of the corpse was searched, in case the flood had 
left a shred of apparel on the body, and the result inventoried. Valuables 
were handed to the proper authorities. Usually it was absolutely necessary to 
turn a stream of water through a hose on the bodies, which were thickly coated 
with mire. Often knives had to be used to scrape off the defiling filth and 
congealed blood. There was no attempt at embalming the first day, for no 
appliances could be had. The same reason compelled putting many of the 
corpses in rough boxes, without shrouds or an}' change from the wet clothing 
the lifeless clay had worn the day before. It was hard to consign beautiful 
girls and innocent children to such receptacles, but no alternative remained. 

The cemeteries could not be reached from Johnstown. Sandyvale was cov- 
ered with water and the spoils of the flood, and the bridges leading to Grand 
View had been washed away. Except to the people of Kernville no road was 
open to any burial-place. In this dire strait a piece of ground back of Pros- 
pect was fixed upon as a temporary graveyard. On Sunday morning the inter- 
ments began. A rope ferry and a lot of boats that leaked like sieves con- 
veyed the bodies across Conemaugh Creek. Men bore them up the steep 
hill — a most toilsome ascent. At the appointed spot laborers phed spades 
and picks, digging shallow graves. The soil was gravelly and full of stones. 
Into one of these holes each coffin was let down and the dirt shoveled in. A 



192 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

card nailed on a bit of board, corresponding with the tag on the casket-lid, re- 
cited all that was known regarding the unconscious slumberer. There were 
no gaudy trappings of woe, no mourning garbs, no nodding plumes, no capar- 
isoned steeds, no floral emblems, no long train of carriages, no tolling bells, 
no words of eulogy, no dirges, no prayers, no tears. None save the bearers of 
the burdens and the grave-diggers witnessed the last rites over many a fair 
woman and brave man, clever boy and winsome girl. There were no religious 
services and no surpliced clergy to utter the solemn words : 
" Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust !" 
The water receded sufficienth' for bodies to be reclaimed on Sunday from 
the Point and Cambria Borough. A lad named Davis was the first taken 
from the area of the burned district above the railroad bridge. Soon after a 
family of five — father, mother and three children — were pulled from the smok- 
ing ruins, charred and disfigured terribly and one of the little girls with an 
arm torn off. The dead clustered thickly in the heaps of wreck and the 
cellars. From the basement of the Hulbert House twelve were taken, and 
forty more of the guests from the streets in the vicinity of the hotel. The 
work of rescuing the bodies went ahead so diligently that within a week nearly 
two thousand had been recovered and buried. The advanced stage of decom- 
position rendered identification very difficult in hundreds of cases, leading to 
endless confusion. ' A person would view a body and identify it as a relative 
or friend, while the next comer would call it an entirely different individual. 
One corpse was identified as eleven young ladies in a single afternoon. Miss 
Minnie Shaffer, a clerk, who went to the country the day before the flood, was 
recognized in a corpse at the Millville morgue and buried, was recognized and 
buried at Nineveh, and returned alive and well the second week in June. In 
some instances the survivors were so benumbed that every corpse they looked 
upon seemed to be that of a near friend or relative. Mrs. H. L. Peterson, a 
resident at Woodvale for years, while looking for Miss Paulson, of Pittsburgh, 
came to a coffin marked : 

' ' Mrs. H. L. Peterson, Woodville Borough, Pa. , aged about forty, size five feet one inch, 
complexion dark, weight about two hundred pounds." 

This was quite a good description of Mrs. Peterson. She tore the card 
from the coffin and one of the officers was about to arrest her. Her explana- 
tions were satisfactory, she was released and the body added one more to the 
long list of the unknown. At St. Columba's Catholic Church a woman identi- 
fied a bodj' as that of Katie Frank. The undertakers labeled it accordingly, 
but in a few moments another woman entered the church, raised the lid of the 
coffin, scanned the face of the corpse and tore the label from the casket. The 
undertakers were warned by the woman to be more careful. She then began 
to weep and left the church in despair. She was the mother of Katie, who 
was never found. 



DISPOSAL OF THE DEAD. 



r 93 



Skilled assistance was not withheld. The Pittsburgh undertakers organ- 
ized a relief corps on June ist. In response to a message asking how many 
physicians were needed, this laconic answer was received on Saturday even- 
ing from Sang Hollow, the nearest point to Johnstown which had telegraphic 
communication : 

"Physicians are not needed ; send as many undertakers as possible." 

This message was received by Undertaker James J. Flannery, who hastily 
issued a call for a meeting of the undertakers of Pittsburgh and Allegheny at his 
office at 9. 30 the same night. Representatives of twenty-eight undertaking 
establishments attended and volunteered their services. At eight o'clock on 
Sunday morning the volunteers left for Johnstown. The corps was made up of 
seventeen undertakers and numerous assistants. Mr. Flannery remained in 
Pittsburgh until Monday to superintend the obtaining of recruits and shipping 
embalming supplies. He enlisted a number of other undertakers, and on 
Monday morning started for Johnstown with a strong additional force, swell- 
ing the total to fifty-five. Among those who arrived later on were H. C. Tarr, 
of Brooklyn, N. Y. , who rode one hundred and eighty-one miles overland to 
tender his services as an embalmer. During the first few days the full corps 
were kept constantly at work washing, embalming and preparing the dead for 
burial — a task to which even these experienced men were hardly equal. The 
sights the}' were compelled to witness, the terrible grief of some of the survi- 
vors, the dazed condition of others, coupled with the horrible and sickening 
stench that arose from the putrefying bodies, thoroughly unmanned them all. 
Notwithstanding the unpleasantness of the task and the fact that the)' had 
worked day and night without a morsel of food or an hour's cessation of labor, 
there was not one among all the number who murmured or exhibited a desire 
to shirk his self-imposed duty. After the majority of the bodies had been in- 
terred the undertakers were divided' into relief corps, twenty-five remaining 
until the State authorities took charge. These undertakers are entitled to the 
warmest praise for their excellent service, rendered without hope of reward 
beyond the satisfaction arising from a noble performance of duty. 

The attitudes and conditions of scores of the dead were singularly im- 
pressive and pathetic. Particularly at Nineveh were they excruciating. The 
journey down the river had mutilated the victims shockingly. They lay in 
rows on the floor of the planing-mill, the majority entirely nude until muslin 
could be procured to enfold them. Along the river bits of clothing, a tiny 
shoe, a baby's dress, a mother's wrapper, a father's coat and every article of 
wearing apparel imaginable were to be seen hanging to stumps of trees and 
scattered on the bank. An acre of ground was purchased for a burial-place, 
and three hundred bodies were interred there in plain coffins until removed to 
Grand View Cemetery five months afterwards. The authorities of Westmore- 



jq, THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

land and Indiana counties set men to patrol the banks of the Conemaugh for 
bodies, which were handled carefully and given decent burial. 

Limp corpses, which had lost nearly all semblance of humanity, with 
matted hair, holes in their heads, eyes knocked out and bespattered with blood, 
were sights to move the stoutest hearts. A young mother, taken out of the 
river, was sadly disfigured. All her clothing was torn off. She clasped a male 
babe, apparently not more than a year old, tightly in her arms. The little one 
was huddled close to the face of the mother, who had evidently raised it to her 
lips to imprint on its lips the last kiss it was to receive in this world. Both 
were put in one coffin and consigned to an unmarked grave. 

Bodies and fractions of bodies were unearthed in abundance every hour, 
as hand-spikes, axes, hooks and crow-bars in stalwart hands pried up and dis- 
lodged the superincumbent debris. On Main street the work began in front 
of the First National Bank. Twenty-one bodies were taken out in one hour, 
not much mangled or bruised, considering the weight of lumber above them. 
Several were wedged in crevices. In the central part of the town examina- 
tion was tolerably sure to reveal corpses in every corner. Four or five would 
be found in a space ten feet square. From Stony Creek came one which 
resembled the gnarled, misshapen root of a tree. The hands of another 
were clinched over the head so rigidly that two men had to use their strength 
to force them into the coffin. Frequently two or three friends assembled 
where bodies of relatives were supposed to be located and watched the opera- 
tions of the workmen with feverish impatience. Early the week after the 
flood the whole business had been systematized. Six thousand men were 
clearing the ground, each gang of twenty directed by a foreman, and bodies 
were recovered rapidly. The weather continued surprisingly cool, the tem- 
perature becoming chilly at night. This merciful boon prevented the spread 
of an epidemic and made it possible to identify bodies which were not dug out 
for weeks. Sometimes putrefaction had advanced so far that the coffins were 
taken to the spot and the remains tumbled in for immediate conveyance to the 
grave — fit only to fatten the worms, to rot and fester and be a prey to corrup- 
tion ! So frail and transitory a thing is manly strength or womanly beauty ! 

One gang on the Point encountered the upper story of a house, which sent 
out an odor of burned flesh. It was merely a pile of broken boards, but small 
pieces of a bureau and a bed-spring from which the clothes had been burned 
indicated the nature of the find. "Dig here," said the physician to the men, 
"there is one body at least quite close to the surface." The men started in 
with a will. A quantity of household linen was brought up first, of fine 
quality and obviously such as would be stored in the bedroom of a house 
occupied by people in easy circumstances. Shovelsful of jumbled rubbish 
were thrown up, and the odor of flesh became more pronounced. Presently 
one of the men exposed a charred lump of flesh and lifted it up on the end of 



DISPOSAL OF THE DEAD. 



195 



a pitchfork. It was all that remained of a poor creature who had met an 
awful death between water and fire. The trunk was put on a cloth, the ends 
were looped up and the parcel was taken to the river bank. It weighed about 
thirty pounds. A stake was driven in the ground to which a tag was attached 
giving a description of the remains. This was done in many cases to the 
burned bodies, which lay covered with cloths upon the bank until men came 
with coffins to remove them. Then the tag was taken from the stakes and 
tacked on the coffin lid, which was immediately closed up, as identification 
was out of the question. 

The massive stone bridge of the Pennsylvania railroad is the point of de- 
marcation between Johnstown, Millville and Cambria Borough. As the im- 
pacted network of timbers, telegraph poles, houses, trees, wires, fragments of 
cars and five iron bridges, boilers, masses of iron, twisted beams and girders, 
heavy safes, pieces of railroad track, pianos, sofas, dressing cases, crockery, 
trunks and ever}' conceivable article of household use was loosened little by 
little, large numbers of bodies were disclosed. A young woman was found on 
Tuesday morning, crushed and mangled under the wheels of a gondola car. 
The doctor declared he had never seen pain so intense pictured on a face. On 
the top of a trunk filled with lady's attire was a body so burned, so horribly 
mutilated, so torn from limb to limb, that even the workmen, who had seen so 
man}' of these frightful sights that they were growing accustomed to them, 
turned away sick at heart. Close to it was part of a horse's head tied to a 
cindered fragment of a manger, the only sign of the stable in which the an- 
imal burned. Five yards off lay two scorched towels, a cake of soap and a 
child's skull in a bed of ashes. A human foot in a charred boot marked the 
fate of an unfortunate mortal in the macerated mass of splintered dwellings, 
human beings, domestic animals, machinery, locomotives, the contents of 
stores and residences, the products of factories, all ground in a mighty mill 
and jammed together inextricably and irretrievably. A woman's hat, the rim 
burned off, and a reticule with a hand still holding it fast, two shoes and part of 
a dress told the workmen how one woman met death. A commercial traveler 
had perished beside her. His broken valise — still full of samples — remnants of 
clothing and a few bones were all. Similar objects were found in every rod 
searched by the toilers, who lifted out the shattered remains that could not 
be recognized and hurried them to the graves prepared for the nameless 
dead. 

Articles of domestic use scattered through the rubbish helped fix the 
identity of some of the bodies. Part of a set of dinner-plates informed one 
man where, in an intangible mass, his house was, with his wife and child. In 
one place was a photograph album with one picture recognizable. From this 
the body of a child near by was identified. A man, who had spent a day and 
all night looking for the body of his wife, was directed to her remains by part 



196 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

of a trunk lid. Many a tear flowed on account of poor old John Jordan, of 
Conemaugh. His wife and children had been swept from his sight in the 
flood. He wandered over the gorge searching for them, and at night the po- 
lice could not bring him away. At daylight on Tuesday he found his wife's 
sewing-machine and called the workmen to help him. First the}' found a 
little boy's jacket that he recognized. Then the)' came upon the rest of 
them all buried together, the mother's burned arms clinging to the little chil- 
dren. The white-headed old man sat down in the ashes, caressed the dead 
bodies and talked to them just as if they were alive until some one came and 
led him quietly away. Without a protest he went to the shore, sat down on 
a rock, talked to himself and then got up and disappeared in the hills. 

Deep in the meshes were the bodies of a woman, a child and a laborer 
with hobnailed shoes. They were beyond the reach of the workers clearing 
the wreck near the bridge, who could not get near the corpses until consider- 
able blasting with dynamite had been done. This introduced a new horror, 
the dynamite sending portions of bodies high into the air. Legs, arms and 
heads went hundreds of feet skyward at each explosion, falling back in parti- 
cles which could not always be collected for burial. 

From a pile of wreckage on Feeder street, a few doors north of Main, the 
body of an unknown woman was taken one June afternoon. She was large 
and well-dressed, but none could identify in the blackened form a human be- 
ing, latelv imbued with life and feeling, who had to be hidden beneath the 
sod without delay. 

Strangely enough, all the bodies of the fifty victims who perished in the 
Hulbert house were speedily recovered, except those of Maria and May Ben- 
ford, sisters of the proprietor. On the morning of June 21st, the former was 
found in front of Campbell's drug-store, Main street, a hundred yards from the 
site of the ill-fated hotel. The lower part of the face was gone, leaving only 
the exposed jaw and cheek bones. The position was very natural, with the 
left hand on the breast and the right arm lying by the side. Three rings on a 
finger of the discolored hand rendered identification easy. A few feet away 
lav Mav, who was recovered soon after. She was sick in bed when the deluge 
carried her away, and her sister is believed to have been in her room at the 
moment of the disaster. The two were buried in Grand Mew Cemetery, be- 
side their mother and brother, who also lost their lives. 

An old frame building on the corner of Main and Bedford streets had a 
tin-shop on the ground floor. John Murtha occupied the second story. On 
Friday evening. June 21, imbedded in the cellar of the building, which had 
been utterly destroyed, a body was discovered. It was soon found to be that 
of a woman, whose clothes enabled them to identify her as Miss Maggie 
Ripple. The body lay on the left side, at an angle of about thirty degrees, 
with the hand raised some distance, as if it had been clutching at something. 



DISPOSAL OF TJ/E DEAD. 



19; 



The skull was entirely bare of flesh, presenting a shocking appearance. So 
wedged and fastened in the mass of boards and bricks was it that an hour was 
spent in digging before it could be taken out. While engaged in this sad 
task five more bodies were found beside and under the first, clasped together 
in the firm embrace of death. They were John Murtha, his wife and three 




TAKING OUT THE BODIES OF JOHN ML'RTHA S FAMILY, AND PORTRAITS OF TWO OF THE CHILDREN. 



children. Mrs. Murtha was a sister of Miss Ripple, and all six had evidently 
sought refuge in a small room on the side of their modest home above the tin- 
shop. The}' were fearfully decomposed, and those who saw the remains will 
never forget the sight. Disinfectants had to be sprinkled over them con- 
stantly. Tender hands prepared them as carefully as possible for burial, 
which had to be done at once. The finding of these corpses made the people 
shudder at the frightful harvest the cellars might disclose when cleared of the 
mud and refuse. God pity them I 

These dreadful sights and scenes were of daily and hourly occurrence for 
weeks, blunting the sensibilities, callousing the finer feelings and unnerving 
those obliged to come into contact with them. In some instances other per- 
sons who knew them had to point out the dead to the living, and' assure them 
positively of their identification before they could be aroused. Thus a rail- 
road laborer, who had come to look for a friend, walked up and down like a 



I9S THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

man in a trance. He looked at the bodies, taking no apparent interest in any 
of them. At last he stopped before one which he had passed twice, mut- 
tered "That's Jim," and went out just as he had come in. Other identifica- 
tions were precisely like this. There was no shedding of tears nor showing 
of emotion. They gazed upon the features of the dead as if totally unable to 
omprehend it at all, reported their identification to the attendants, watched 
the body as it was put into a coffin and went away with that miserable look of 
bewildered wretchedness which puzzled the physicians and evoked the com- 
passion of the stranger. People read, with scarcely a thought, a line of this 
kind in the newspapers, dated from Johnstown : 
"Fifty bodies were found to-day." 

Did you ever stop to think what these dispatches really meant ? Fancy 
something of the sort in your own neighborhood, where you couldn't go over 
street without stumbling over or at least hearing of the finding of a neighbor's 
remains ! It is hard to understand the full force of such a condition of affairs, 
except by actual experience. The story was repeated constantly for months 
in the stricken district, acres of which were covered with wreckage that hid 
the remains of thousands of victims of the appalling calamity which steeped 
the Conemaugh valley in all the bitter miseries Pandora's box ever contained. 

The scenes which transpired in the headquarters of death cannot be 
outlined. Mothers were there searching for sons and daughters, fathers seek- 
ing wives and children, and little toddlers crying for a "mamma" upon whose 
loving face they were never to look again. The "touch of Nature which 
makes the whole world kin ' ' welded sufferers and strangers in bonds of tear- 
ful sympathy. The stoutest could not view without emotion friends hanging 
around the morgues for days and weeks in quest of a missing one. How they 
clung to the faintest hope ! Many a stiff and bruised corpse was recognized 
by a mark, or a strip of clothing, or some peculiarity the sharp glance of affec- 
tion could alone detect. The weary searching of hundreds went unrewarded. 
One women, whose reason tottered when she found her husband and two 
children in the debris, could not be persuaded that they were buried. Her 
frenzy developed brain fever, in the delirum of which she mercifully lost con- 
sciousness for weeks. 

Nine morgues were opened in all, each of which had its quota of sorrowful 
tragedies. At the Fourth ward school-house morgue a woman from Erie fainted 
on seeing the long line of coffins. At the Kernville morgue a bo}' named 
Elrod, on finding his father and mother both dead, seized a hatchet and for 
some time would let no one enter, claiming that the people were lying to him 
and wanted to rob him of his parents. Another Kernville lad of about twelve 
years came day in and day out, and eagerly viewed every new corpse found, 
only to turn away with a weary sigh. He had lost mother, father and sister, 
and the cruel waters refused to yield up to him even their mangled remains. 



DISPOSAL OF THE DEAD. 199 

The bodies held and coffined at the hose-house in Morrellville presented 
a different aspect. The mud was six inches deep, and the drizzling rain ad- 
ded gloom to the scene. Here and there could be seen, kneeling in the mire, 
broken-hearted wives and mothers who sobbed and prayed. The incidents 
were heartrending. In one rude box lay a beautiful young woman. "Any 
one know her?" called out a committee-man. A crowd passed the box, but 
no one called her name. On the face was an expression of perfect rest. The 
features were fine and the clothes elegant. Lying in a row at the Cambria 
morgue — St. Columba's church — were five children from two to six years old, 
whom nobody knew. A hundred bodies were deposited on the muddy seats. 
Outside the sharp voices of the sentinels were constantly shouting : "Move 
on!" Inside, weeping women and sad-faced, hollow-eyed men bent over 
loved and familiar faces. On Sunday a man with haggard face and eyes fairly 
starting from their sockets, pointing to the corpse of a young woman said, as 
the tears coursed down his cheeks : 

"There, that is my wife, or, rather, is all that is left of her. Take her remains to my 
house on Prospect Hill and prepare her corpse for burial. Take this money ; it is all I have, 
but you may have it if you'll only attend to her. She was all I held dear in life ; now that she 
is gone, I have nothing to live for." 

A handsome woman, with hair black as a raven's wing, walked through 
the depot where a dozen bodies were awaiting burial. Passing from one to 
another, she finally lifted the paper covering from the face of a woman, young 
and with traces of beauty showing through the stains of muddy water. With a 
cry of anguish she reeled backward, to be caught by a man who chanced to be 
passing. In a moment she had calmed herself sufficiently to take one more 
look at the features of the dead. She stood gazing at the corpse as if dumb. 
Turning away with another wild burst of grief — the dead girl was her sister — 
she said : 

"And her beautiful hair all matted and her sweet face so bruised and stained with mud 
and water !" 

The body of a lovely young girl was found on Monday at the office of the 
Cambria Iron Company. When the corpse was conveyed to the morgue a man 
entered in search of missing relatives. The first body he came to he recognized 
as his wife. A few feet farther off he identified the young girl, his daughter, 
Theresa Downs. Both had been found within a hundred yards of each other, 
and the}' were laid side by side in the cemetery. 

While looking for the dead, the living were sometimes found. At the 
Fourth-ward morgue a father and son met : 

" My God, John ! can this be you ? I thought you dead, and hoped only to find your body." 
" Tis I, father, safe and sound. But how about mother and baby ?" 
" Gone ! All gone !" 

The old man wept as he uttered these words, and both linked arms as they 
started to the next morgue on their weary mission. The work of the Pitts- 



200 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

burgh undertakers in embalming the dead rendered it possible to keep them 
two or three days longer, in cases where identification was dubious or no claim- 
ants appeared. Rev. Dr. Beale had general supervision of the morgues and 
to him reports were sent of all bodies recovered, with such particulars as could 
be obtained. 

The body of Eugene Hannon, found near the First Presbyterian Church, 
was identified by his father. The young man was a member of the League of 
American Wheelmen, and his bicycle was within a few yards of his body. The 
father laid the wrecked wheel on the coffin of his son. 

Let us enter some of these morgues tnree or four days after the flood. 
This brick school-house in Millville, which saved three hundred lives, is now 
the abode of that number of the dead. Crowds linger around and watch each 
corpse the carriers or the wagons bring in. The yard is packed with coffins 
of stained pine. Piled up on one side are coffins — little coffins, medium cof- 
fins, large coffins — coffins for children, coffins for men, coffins for women. 
Stretched on boards in the lower school-room are corpses dragged from the 
creek, the river, the debris and the burned wreckage. Some have great bruises 
and welts and are covered with blood. Some are decaying and discolored — 
past recognition. The air reeks with insufferable odors and the desks are 
biers. Three of the former pupils lie on the desks with pieces of paper 
pinned to the white sheets that cover them, giving their names. On the black- 
board are figures and writing, chalked by hands now stiffened and moulder- 
ing. One of these reads : 

"Home, Sweet Home." 

Aye, the deft fingers which wrote these words would write no more. The 
little child had indeed reached "Home" — the home that endures. Who 
knows but he was lying on one of these desks, just ready to be coffined and car- 
ried to the narrow home ? Till sunset on Monday every desk in the class- 
room supported a coffin. Each coffin was numbered and each lid turned to 
show the face within. Between the pretty drawing and the neat writing of 
the schoolchildren was scrawled the bulletin: "Hold No. '59' as long as 
possible; supposed to be Miss Paulson, of Pittsburgh." But "59" wasn't Miss 
Paulson. A citizen of Johnstown claimed it as his sister's corpse, and the 
casket was moved out to make room for another. 

At the Presbyterian church the first floor is washed out completely and 
the second damaged. The walls, floors and pews were drenched, mud collect- 
ing on the matting and carpets two inches deep. The chancel is filled with 
coffins, strips of muslin, boards and all undertaking accessories. Across the 
tops of the pews are a dozen pine boxes, each containing a victim. Printed 
cards are tacked on each. Upon them is a description of the enclosed body, 
with the name if known. Nine are unnamed and will be buried to-morrow. 
The great number of bodies not identified seems incredible. Some of these 



DISPOSAL OF THE DEAD. 



20I 



bodies have lain in the different morgues for four days. Thousands of people 

from different sections of the State have seen them, yet the}' remain un- 
recognized and unclaimed. This is the strongest testimony of the wholesale 

destruction of entire families and neighborhoods. Alas ! here is a familiar 

form. Ex-Sheriff John Ryan is in 

this coffin, his body just recovered 

from the wreck and carried to the 

church. Nineteen persons in his 

brick building on Washington street 

were lost and onlv two escaped. 

The dead are the sheriff, his wife, 

mother, and three daughters ; Mrs. 

James J. Murphy, "Granny " Kunkle 

and two daughters ; Miss Unverzagt, 

Miss Alexander, James O'Neill 

(driver), Jacob Bopp and two daught- 
ers ; John Schiffhauer and daughter, 

and Miss Rose Gardner, domestic. 

The saved were James Rutledge, 

clerk in Mr. Ryan's store, and the 

sheriff's youngest son, John. Mr. 

Rutledge told me the mournful story. 

The sheriff, himself, and the driver 
were, in the store laboring to save 
the goods. When the rush came they started to go up-stairs, Ryan and 
O'Neill ahead. By the time Rutledge reached the stairway he was in water 
up to his neck. The sheriff and O'Neill, after landing on the second story, 
ran forward into the brick part of the house. Rutledge stepped back in the 
frame to help through a window Mrs. Kunkle and others, who had climbed 
over the roofs from their houses. While he was thus engaged the brick part 
of the building was struck by the deluge and swept away with everybody in it. 
The frame part quickly followed and was smashed up, Rutledge floating off 
toward and down Main street and to a point in the river a short distance 
above the old mine. There he scrambled across fifty yards of wreckage, in- 
cluding a part of the Mansion House roof, and got on the hillside. Little 
John Ryan, the ex-sheriff's son, got hold of a door and held on until it bobbed 
up to the surface. Then the door floated off, and he clung to it until drifted 
over to the South Side and rescued. He was the only person saved from the 
brick part of the sheriff's house, and this coffin holds all that was mortal of 
genial John Ryan, "one of Nature's noblemen." 

Day after day the search went on, foreigners and natives assisting. For 
a month the harvest of corpses kept at a high figure. When the cellars were 




EX-SHERIFF JOHN RYAN. 



202 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

cleaned out many were discovered. At first coffins could not be had, and five 
thousand were ordered from Pittsburgh. Car-loads of this lugubrious freight 
reached the stone bridge on Tuesday. An undertaker adopted a utilitarian 
device to get them over the shaky rope bridge which afforded the only means 
of crossing the Conemaugh. With one train from the West came several 
hundreds of the morbidly curious, bent upon all the horrors which the}' could 
stomach. A crowd of them crossed the bridge and stopped to gaze round- 
eved upon a pile of empty coffins meant for the bodies across the river in the 
ruins of Johnstown proper. As they gazed the undertaker, seeking transporta- 
tion for the coffins, came along. A somewhat malicious inspiration of genius 
lighted his eye. With the best imitation possible of a military man, he 
shouted to the idlers : 

"Each of you men take a coffin." 
"What for?" 

"You want to go into town, don't you ? Well, not one of you goes unless he takes a coffin 
with him." 

In ten minutes way was made at the ticklish rope bridge for a file of six- 
teen coffins, each borne by two of the unwilling conscripts, the undertaker 
bringing up the rear. Trains kept piling up the pine boxes until the supply 
exceeded the demand. Dispatches of this kind would appear in the papers : 
" Eleven car-loads of coffins arrived to-day." 

The coffins were stacked around the morgues, on the pavements and at 
the railway stations. They were the first thing to greet the stranger and send 
a frigid current down the spine of the visitor. Many were small as violin 
cases — for the great army of babies and young children. The heaps lessened 
steadily, for bodies were dug out daily for five months. Fires consumed 
masses of the useless rubbish, purifying the atmosphere and ridding the district 
of obnoxious refuse at a single operation. 

Walking near one of the morgues a week after the flood, just as a bod}' 
taken from Stony Creek was being carried in, curiosity prompted me to enter 
once more. What a dreadful place ! The air was stifling with the acrid, 
nauseous stench of human corpses. In the room rough wooden caskets lay 
around on the floor, each holding a tainted, decomposing body. Pointing to 
one of the rude receptacles, which held the form of a young woman whom 
even a violent death could not deprive of traces of great beauty, a middle-aged 
man remarked : 

" She's been here long enough and must be buried this afternoon !" 

The speaker's tones had not a particle of feeling, and he moved among 
the dead as though they were so many sticks or vegetables. The girl he had 
indicated was one more in the long procession of unfortunates. The remains 
had her name marked on her linen, and her unborn babe was a portentous 
text on woman's folly and man's lust. The bracelet clasping her slender wrist, 



DISPOSAL OF THE DEAD. 203 

which had to be cut from the swollen arm, was of the kind known as a " porte- 
bonheur, "' locking with a tiny key which the lover keeps. Poor thing ! it was 
a "porte-malheur" circlet for her. Two human beings less in the world, an 
unmarked hillock in the cemetery — such is the story in brief. Does the world 
stop to reflect upon these tragedies in everyday life? Alas, no ! It just wags 
on as before, caring little or nothing for the dismal scenes that mark each step 
of its progress. 

Six burial places received the bodies of the victims whose friends did not 
remove them to distant points. The nearest was Sandyvale Cemetery, on the 
outskirts of Kernville, Stony Creek bounding it on one side and the Baltimore 
& Ohio railroad running close to its eastern limit. There most of the 
Johnstown dead were buried until Grand View Cemetery was opened three 
years ago by a corporation. The ground was level, sandy, laid out nicely, 
with numerous evergreens and tidy graves. The rubbish planted by the flood 
had to be cleared or burned to make way for the bodies sent by the committees. 
This was commenced at the southern end. At the time of my first visit the 
corpses had to be taken through an avenue of fire and over live ashes. There 
were no unknown dead at Sandyvale, consequently they were interred in the 
lots belonging to their friends. As the cleared spots would afford room a 
body was deposited and the grave made to look as decently as four or five 
inches of mud on the surface would permit. One sad incident was the sight 
of two coffins with nobody to bury them. A solitary woman gazed at them in 
a dazed manner, the rain beating on her unprotected head. A Woodvale 
citizen was obliged, from the scarcity of help immediately after the disaster, 
to dig the graves himself and lay in them, alone and unassisted, the bodies of his - 
wife and two children, which were found in Kernville on Monday. Pretty 
hard, wasn't it ? 

Wednesday, June 5th, was marked by the immense number of burials. 
The unidentified dead recovered up to Tuesday morning were then laid 
away. Black clouds darkened the sky, thunder rumbled and the winds sighed 
a low accompaniment. Hundreds were put in shallow trenches, with no sign 
of mourning but the honest sympathy of the men who handled the caskets. 
Man}' had to be the architects of these coffins, which were patched from pieces 
of board fastened with nails or hoops. All day wagons bore loads up the 
steep Prospect hill. ' It was sad to see them going up the hill on farm 
wagons, two or three in each, and no friends following the mud-covered 
vehicles improvised as hearses. The sight lost none of its sadness and 
pathos by its frequency ; only the horror had given place to apathy and stupor. 
Here comes one of these wagons, in it a coffin and two women too full of grief 
for tears. The years that have passed over the head of one have grown the 
white blossoms of old age ; the other is young, and assists her companion to 
the ground. The coffin in the wagon contains the husband of the younger 



204 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

woman, the son of the older. The}' alone of all their friends and relatives 
survived ; they alone sobbed over his grave. As fast as bodies are taken away 
from the morgues others come to fill their places, so that the tragedy goes on 
unremittingly. 

Two men toiled up the hill bearing a coffin on their shoulders ; behind 
them trudged three children — one a girl of twelve, the others toddlers scarcely 
able to walk and far too young to comprehend what had befallen them. One 
of the pall-bearers was a section-hand. On Friday he had taken his children 
to see their grandmother at Nineveh. His wife remained alone at home. She 
was drowned, and on Saturday morning after the flood her body was recovered. 
This explains the coffin and the little procession. 

A Pittsburgh journalist describes a striking incident that came under his 
observation. Charlotte Cushman could not have delineated " Meg Merrilies" 
more truthfully : 

" Who is this strange being coming over the hill ? Her hair is silver and her dress is poor, 
but from her mouth issues the crooning of old songs while she trips lightly over the graves, 
laughing all the while. ' Arrest her, men ! She has dared to desecrate this holy place. ' But 
no ! Her face is blank and expressionless. My God ! her life has been spared, but her mind 
has gone out with the flood. Care for her tenderly, search for her friends. Friends ! Ah, has 
she any friends now ? These are but instances of the misery that hovered on every hand. 
Let us away ; there's madness in the very air !" 

Two locomotive headlights lit up the Prospect graveyard several nights 
for the men to work. They rapidly shoveled in the dirt. No priest was there 
to consecrate the ground or utter a prayer. The coffins had such inscriptions : 

"No. 61, unknown girl, aged 8 years." 

"No. 72, unknown man, black hair, aged about 35 years, smooth face." 

Some of the bodies were more specifically described as "fat," "lean," 
and to one the term "lusty" was applied, The' different cemeteries duplicated 
these experiences continually. At one this conversatien was noted : 

" Say, John, are you sure that's number sixty-three over which you're putting that head- 
board ?" 

" Of course I am. Don't you recollect this is the big one we had so much trouble carry- 
ing ?" 

' ' Oh, yes ; I guess you're right. Hold the ropes tight, boys. Lower it slowly. There, 
that's all right." 

Twenty-six bodies taken to the hose-house in Minersville were buried on 
Wednesday forenoon. Eight women, a baby and four men were not identified. 
Everywhere were nameless graves, and the descriptions were too indefinite to 
hope for identification after burial. What could you expect from a description 
like this, picked out at random : 

" Woman, five feet four inches tall, long hair." 

In the afternoon and night those at Nineveh were buried on the crest of a 
hill. The people of Westmoreland county discharged their duty faithfully. 



DISPOSAL OF THE DEAD. 



205 



The coffins ordered were not cheap affairs. Economical citizens advised that 
the commissioners buy an acre of marsh land by the river, which could be had 
for a few dollars, but these gentlemen declined the miserly proposition and 
secured a desirable plot. Three trenches were dug two hundred feet long, 
seven feet wide and four feet deep. The coffins were packed in very much 
as grocers' boxes are stored in a warehouse. Of the bodies 117 were uniden- 
tified. Twenty-five were shipped to relatives at outside points. In several 
instances friends of those recognized were too poor to do anything to prevent 
their consignment to the trenches. 

The scheme to abolish all the morgues, except the one at the Millville 
school-house, was accomplished by June 20th. The Fourth-ward, the Presby- 
terian-church , the Minersville and the Peelorville morgues were closed earlier and 
those in Cambria and Morrellville virtually so, leaving one in Millville and one 
on the South Side the only ones really open. John Henderson, the under- 
taker, was placed in charge of the morgues. His place of business had been 
destroyed and his partner drowned. By the end of June he had erected a 
new building, on the east side of which he placed a portable frame structure of 
one story and one room, known as an "Oklahoma." This constituted the last 
morgue, and the directors proceeded to prepare the school-houses for the fall 
term. The official report shows the following bodies handled at each of the 
regular morgues and at one place used temporarily : 

Morgue A, Fourth ward T. . ..301 

Morgue B, Presbyterian church 92 

Morgue C, Millville and Pennsylvania railroad station 344 

Morgue D, South Side 143 

Morgue E, Cambria City 875 

Morgue F, Morrellville 238 

Morgue G, Nineveh (both sides) 248 

Morgue H, Dibert's soap factory 12 

Total 2,253 

This is probably as nearly correct as is possible under the circumstances 
in every district except Cambria. Though this was closed the middle of June 
875 are said to have been received there, while the Millville Morgue, which 
was in continuous operation, has a record of only 344. The error, if there be 
one, was made by those having charge of the Cambria Morgue, who gave no 
descriptions or names of fully one-third the entire number. When bodies were 
first recovered the descriptions were necessarily recorded on slips of paper 
picked up in the ruins. These were in some instances lost and in others 
possibly repeated, and thus it is next to impossible to obtain an accurate 
list of the dead. 

The bodies recovered below New Florence, those never found, the num- 
ber destroyed at the bridge and the dead not taken to any of the morgues, will 



206 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

swell the total to about 3,200. The new directory of Johnstown, published 
in September by C. B. Clark, of Altoona, is not far off this estimate. At the 
time of the flood the whole edition, which was in a book-bindery, was lost. 
From the proof-sheets the names were obtained and printed as the}* were be- 
fore the flood, with a special record of those lost. The number of drowned is 
put at 3,500. One of the things noted is that of the 95 saloons and liquor- 
dealers in the flooded districts all but six were completely wiped out. In those 
remaining the stock was destroyed, so that there was, in fact, total destruction 
by water. 

Another basis of comparison is the membership of the churches. The 
pastor of one church with 600 communicants counted the lost at 200, another 
with a membership of 300 gave 100 as lost. This is not counteracted by the 
estimate of several of the Cambria Iron Company's foremen that 1,000 of the 
5,000 employes on the rolls were drowned. The)' were mostly strong men, 
and a loss of one in five in such a class might mean a much greater loss in the 
general population. There were only 3,000 of the 5,000 former employes of 
the Cambria Iron Company remaining. Some of the host presumed to have 
gone away immediately after the calamity to other places may, like Tennyson's 
mute-steered dead, have gone "upward with the flood." 

Crowded though Johnstown was . with sorrowful scenes, no spot in or 
about the desolated district was more sadly suggestive than the burial-place 
back of Prospect. Climbing the high hill in front of the Pennsylvania rail- 
road station, passing the brick school-house and traversing a rough country- 
road a hundred rods, a turn to the left brought the visitor to a plot of ground 
enclosed by a temporary fence of rough boards nailed lengthwise to small posts. 
The scenery is rarely beautiful and romantic, presenting a panorama of hills 
and ravines so lovely that the eye dwells upon it admiringly. But within the 
enclosure, on the gentle slope once covered with green grass and then heaped 
with mounds, a picture unutterably touching was revealed. About four hun- 
dred of the victims of the fearful disaster that overwhelmed the Conemaugh 
Valley, on May 31, 1889, found here a resting-place. Nine-tenths of the graves 
had tenants whose names were unknown, none identifying them at the morgues 
where they were exposed to view when first taken from the wreck. At the 
head of each was a bit of board stuck in the ground, with a piece of paper de- 
scribing the sleeper below. The rain washed away many of the descriptions, 
leaving only the bare board and the number to indicate that a human form lay 
beneath the gravel, which was almost destitute of sod. Pity the heart that 
could look at this temporary cemetery unmoved ! 

One touching feature of this burial-place was the large number of small 
graves, where children of tender age were laid. Upon scores of these it was 
my painful duty to look as they were extricated from the ruins and borne to 
the school-houses that served as morgues. These little mounds told a sad 



DISPOSAL OF THE DEAD. 207 

story of the appalling destruction of child-life by the angry waters. Some 
were mere infants, others were the prattlers who gave joy and life to happy 
homes, and still more had begun to go to the schools in which their cold 
bodies lay after the horrible flood. Not a few of these little ones were never 
identified, for the reason that entire families were swept away and neighbors 
were involved in the ruin that blotted out so man)- households. 

In the upper corner of this graveyard was one plot enclosed by four rude 
posts and a border of narrow boards, over which, four feet above the ground, a 
wire frame stretched. Fragrant flowers and plants showed that loving hands 
cared for the hallowed spot with tender interest. This was the grave of Harry 
G. Rose, the young lawyer and District Attorney, who died in his own home, 
crushed by falling timbers. Those who knew him could not refrain from tears 
as they beheld this mound. Two rods away was a similar enclosure containing 
the graves of Rev. Alonzo P. Diller, rector of the Episcopal Church, his wife, 
child and niece, who went down with their dwelling in the cruel waters. On 
pieces of boards their names and ages were painted, and bunches of flowers 
attested that the good rector was not forgotten by such of his congregation as 
remained. 

Credulous correspondents, who believed the wildest yarns, circulated fear- 
ful stories of hungry dogs ravaging the graves of the victims buried on Pros- 
pect Hill. According to these imaginative writers, the curs tore up dozens of 
graves and devoured the corpses. Nothing of the sort occurred. The four 
hundred bodies were put in coffins too deep in the earth for any animal to 
touch them, and men guarded the enclosure night and day. Surel}- there 
were sufficient horrors without distressing grieving friends with reports of 
loved ones lacerated and eaten by howling canines ! 

In October and November these bodies, with others interred at Nineveh 
and various points along the Conemaugh, were exhumed and removed to 
Grand View Cemetery. Assuredly no flood will every touch them in that 
charming retreat. Well is it named ! A thousand feet above the valley of 
the Conemaugh, at the crest of this great hill, lie the bodies of all of those 
whom none but death has claimed. There were fourteen trenches, fifty-one 
to the trench. The earth was smoothed over the last fifteen of these 714 un- 
known dead on Thanksgiving Day. Eleven of them had been brought from 
Blairsville, and the last four from the cemetery of Sandyvale, tying in the 
valley of the Stony Creek. The road to Grand View was put through by 
John Fulton. It is an engineering and landscape-gardening feat of four loops, 
which take two miles to climb the mountain side, whereas a straight climb 
would be one-eighth as far. It is a plan of ascending terrace after terrace, in 
which the view of the Conemaugh broadens for leagues with every sweep of 
the road. In summer the view is ravishing. The brown grass of the hill- 
sides was coated with snow and the road almost knee-deep with red clay, 



20£ ; THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

when the wagons — with the last load of Johnstown's dead — crept slowly up 
the road. A correspondent's muddy buggy followed. A young man and a girl, 
climbing from terrace to terrace to visit their dead on the hill-top, looked keenly 
on the stranger dead and the stranger living who invaded their sanctity. The 
trustees of the cemetery donated a beautiful lot for the burial of these unknown 
ones, and it is designed to erect a fitting monument next year. The re- 
moval of the bodies to this spot was the happy idea of Secretary Kremer, of 
the Relief Commission, who labored indefatigably to carry the plan into effect. 
There sleep the nameless victims of the flood, but their graves will be visited 
by generations yet unborn, who will stand with tmcovered heads, and in reverent 
awe look upon the mounds in the plot of Grand View Cemetery which are so 
full of melancholy interest. What hearts have been crushed, what firesides 
darkened by the absence of these unknown slumberers, for whose return loving 
kindred waited as did his trustful wife for the home-coming of Enoch Arden ! 

Of course there were coroner' s inquests where such multitudes had come 
to untimely ends. Dr. R. B. Hammer, of Greensburg, held inquests on every- 
body found in Westmoreland county. Up to June 7th his jury had sat upon 218 
bodies. No more being recovered, the jury then rendered this verdict : 

Inquisition taken and indented at Nineveh, in the county of Westmoreland, on the 7th day 
of June, A. D., 1889, before me, R B. Hammer, coroner of the county aforesaid, upon the view 
of the body then and there lying dead, upon the oaths of E. E. 'JVible, A. L. Bethune, H. M. 
Guy, R. B. Rogers, W. H. Work and James McCarthy, good and' lawful men of the county 
aforesaid, who, being sworn and affirmed diligently to inquire and true presentment make, on 
behalf of the Commonwealth, how and in what manner the said came to its death, having 
viewed the body of said deceased and having heard the testimony of witnesses, do say, upon their 
oaths and affirmations aforesaid, that the aforesaid deceased came to its death by violence due 
to the flood caused by the breaking of the dam of the South-Fork Reservoir, and, as well the 
aforesaid coroner as the jurors aforesaid, do certify under their oaths that the said deed of vio- 
lence caused by the action of the flood, or there is such strong suspicion of such violence or un- 
lawful acts as to make an inquest necessary. 

In witness whereof as well the aforesaid coroner as the jurors aforesaid have to this inquisi- 
tion set their hands and seals on the day and year of that place first above written. 

R. B. Hammer, H. M. Guy, 

E. E. Wible, R. B. Rogers, 

A. L. Bethune, James McCarthy, 

W. H. Work. 

Coroner Evans, of Cambria county, also held an inquest, the jury viewing 
the body of Mrs. Ellen Hite. The testimony was voluminous and exhaustive. 
Ever)' phase of the disaster was investigated, expert witnesses were heard and 
the jurors visited the dam. Evidence was adduced to prove that hay and 
straw were used to fill up the break when the Fishing Club secured the prop- 
erty for a trifling sum. The inquest closed on Saturday night, July 6th, with 
the following verdict : 

We, the undersigned, the jury empanelled to investigate the cause of the death of Ellen 
Hite on May 31, after hearing the testimony, find that Ellen Hite came to her death by drown- 



DISPOSAL OF THE DEAD. 209 

ing ; that the drowning was caused by the breaking of the South-Fork dam. We further find, 
from the testimony and what we saw on the ground, that there was not sufficient water weir, 
nor was the dam constructed sufficiently strong nor of the proper material to withstand the 
overflow ; and hence we find that the owners of said dam were culpable in not making it as 
secure as it should have been, especially in view of the fact that a population of many thousands 
were in the valley below ; and we hold that the owners are responsible for the fearful loss of 
life and property resulting from the breaking of the dam. 

John Coho, John H. Devine, 

Abraham Ferner, John A. Wissinger, 

H. B. Blair, F. W. Cohick. 

Placing the responsibility for the disaster upon the Fishing Club was in 
accordance with the facts and the best -informed sentiment. The club was 
excessively aristocratic, and so exclusive that Tuxedo itself might pronounce 
the Lorillard ideal a failure, The wealthy members never deigned to recognize 
the existence of the common clay of the neighborhood, farther than to warn 
intruders to keep off the premises. For weeks after the dam had converted a 
populous valley into a desert and Lake Conemaugh into a forbidding gorge, 
board signs with these legends stared visitors in the face : 

PRIVATE PROPERTY. jjj 

All Trespassers Found Hunting or Fishing on These | 
Grpunds Will be Prosecuted to the Full 

Extent of the Law. | 

EoasasHHeeeoaeeEeosoHososEosaBeEEGaa* 
PRIVATE PROPERTY. 

No Hunting or Fishing on these Premises, Under 
I Penalty of the Law, $100. 

I SOUTH-FORK FISHING AND HUNTING CLUB. 

The calamity was not due to "a mysterious dispensation of Providence," 
but to the inexcusable laxity which permitted a mud-bank to endanger thou- 
sands of human lives by backing up sufficient water to float all the navies 
in the universe. 

Is it any wonder that Johnstown and Kernville resembled one vast tomb, 
so full of horrors that many inquisitive sight-seers did not care to remain after 
they saw a body exhumed ? When the future Charles Reade wishes to weave 
into his novel the account of some great public calamity he will portray the 
misfortune which overwhelmed the towns and villages in the Conemaugh 
Valley. The bursting of a reservoir and the ensuing scenes of death and de- 
struction, so vividly described in "Put Yourself in His Place," were not the 
creatures of Mr. Reade' s imagination, but actual occurrences. The novelist 
obtained facts and incidents for one of the most striking chapters from the 
events which followed the breaking of the Dale Dyke embankment at Shef- 




2IO THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

field, England, in March 1864, when 238 lives were lost and property valued 
at millions was destroyed. It will need even more vivid and vigorous descrip- 
tive powers than Mr. Reade possessed to delineate the destruction and death 
presented in Johnstown. The Sheffield calamity, disastrous as it proved to be, 
was a small affair when compared with this reservoir accident. The Mill 
River inundation of May, 1874, with its 200 lives lost and $1,500,000 of pro- 
perty destroyed, was a trifle beside South Fork. The only one of the kind 
which approaches it was at Estrecho de Rientes, Spain, in April, 1802, when 
a dam burst and drowned 600 persons and swept $7, 000, 000 worth of property 
away. A flood is China three years ago is credited with a loss of 10,000 
lives, but these figures are problematical and may be magnified ten-fold. 
Above all other calamities in sad pre-eminence will stand the Conemaugh 
disaster, a repetition of which it is devoutly hoped no writer will ever be 
called upon to chronicle. 

Walt Whitman, in his own involved, inimitable way, says of it : 

" Thou ever-darting globe ! thou Earth and Air ! 
Thou waters that encompass us ! 

Thou that in all the life and death of us, in action or in sleep ! 
Thou laws invisible that permeate them and all ! 
Thou that -in all and over all, and through and under all, incessant! 
Thou 1 thou ! the vital, universal, giant force resistless, sleepless, calm, 
Holding Humanity as in the open hand, as some ephemeral toy, 
How ill to e'er forget thee !" 




J r/ecA-o- J J/y^A J T/7y C9 /y. X 



Merchants and Doctors who Perished in the Flood. 



XVI. 



SOME OF THE VICTIMS. 

The Frightful Roll of the Lost— A Garland for Those Who Have Gone Before — 
Well-Known People Cut Off — How Professional Men, Merchants and Private 
Citizens Met an Untimely Fate — Communities Fearfully Decimated — Cambria's 
Long List— Whole Families Blotted Out — Familiar Figures Missing From Their 
Accustomed Haunts— Terrible Gaps in Society and Business That Can Never 
Again Be Filled. 

" See before us, in our journey, broods a mist upon the ground ; 
Thither leads tne path we walk in, blending with that gloomy bound, 
Never eye hath pierced its shadows to the mystery they screen, 
Those who once have passed within it never more on earth are seen. 
Now it seems to stoop beside us, now at seeming distance lowers, 
Leaving banks that tempt us onward bright with summer-green and flowers ; 
Yet it blots the way forever, there our journey ends at last. 
Into that dark cloud we enter and are gathered to the past."— Bryant. 



HERE THE aggregate loss of life is so overpowering 
it is not possible to detail individual cases with the mi- 
nuteness sympathetic interest would prompt. Thous- 
ands of the victims are worthy of the richest garlands 
affection can weave. To pay a loving tribute to hund- 
reds of the dead would be a grateful task. How 
sadly they are missed, now that matters begin to run 
in the old channels and the full extent of the calamity 
is fairly realized ! The grave has closed over multi- 
tudes who bade as fair to live and prosper as any in 
the Keystone State. No pen can portray, no pencil il- 
lustrate the shocking, indescribable change one dread- 
ful hour effected in the population of the Conemaugh 
Valley. It is appreciated in some measure since those who survive have taken 
up once more the burdens and responsibilities so awfully interrupted. Every 
brow wears the mark of grief and a shadow dwells in every breast^ for the 

2 I ■* 




T. W. KIRL1N. 

J. Q. A. BENSCHOFF 
ALVAR AKERS. 



2 1 4 THE STOR Y OF JOHNSTO WN. 

loved ones whose untimely end touched the tenderest chords of human feeling, 
leaving an aching void that can never again be filled until all meet in the 
celestial city. Thousands were homeless, some fatherless and motherless, 
others with none of their families to soften even in a degree the awful blow. 
They were not to be comforted, though neighbors and friends attempted to 
assuage their grief with words of hope and cheer. Too many knew full well 
what the widows and orphan would have to contend with without the provider. 
The men presented a more stolid appearance, but deep down in their hearts 
there was a feeling that years will not efface. Nobly, however, the citizens of 
Johnstown bowed their heads in submission, and with valorous endeavors to 
find the missing sought to forget for the time their personal afflictions. 

Thomas W. Kirlin, one of the four jewelers who perished, was engulfed 
with his entire family*--wife and three children. He was rescued alive, but 
died of pneumonia and injuries on Monday, June ioth, at the residence of Dr. 
Tomb in Morrellville. His last request was to be buried by the Knights of 
the Mystic Chain, to which he belonged. His wish was complied with, and 
he was the first person after the flood to be buried according to the ceremonies 
of any lodge or society. The remains were interred in Morrellville. Mr. Kir- 
lin was an excellent citizen, a leading spirit in the Knights of Labor and an 
agreeable companion. Two days before the disaster his eldest son, Eddie, 
visited the cemetery to place flowers on the grave of his mother, who passed 
away several years ago. To a lad who went with him he remarked : 
" I did love my dear mother so much and long to see her again !" 

Can it be doubted that mother and son have had a joyous meeting on the 
shining shore ? The father was married twice and had lately removed to a new 
location at the south end of the Lincoln street bridge, near the Public Library 
His building vanished, as did all in that part of town. The proprietor of the 
next store, also a jeweler, went down with his premises and goods. 

Emil Young, a well-known jeweler, lived with his mother, wife, three sons 
and daughter over his store on Clinton street, near Main. They were all in 
the building when the wild rush of water surrounded their home. Mr. Young 
was drowned in the store, sitting in a chair, and the body of one son was found 
under the safe, which had been upset. 

G. W. Luckhardt, the oldest and wealthiest jeweler in Johnstown, had a 
stock worth $75,000 in his store on Main street, one door below the Merchants' 
Hotel. He was dragged over the awning into a room on the second floor, 
where he fainted. His son Adolph, daughter-in-law and grandson were in the 
room. They were trying to revive him when a mass of debris crushed into the 
apartment and bore Mr. Luckhardt to the floor, causing his instant death. Mrs. 
Adolph Luckhardt, a lady of surpassing beauty and accomplishments, was 
likewise crushed by the blow which prostrated the old gentleman. The son 
snatched up his little boy and managed to escape with him, the family dog fol- 



SOME OF THE VICTIMS. 21 5 

lowing at his heels. Wreckage piled to the roof and the building had to be 
torn down. Three hundred watches were rusted by the water and mud, which 
filled the cellar. Mr. Luckhardt had carried on a lucrative business- in the 
same frame building for thirty-eight years. He stood very high in public esti- 
mation for integrity, enterprise and financial ability. The key which he had 
used all these years to lock the store-door was found, and will be preserved as 
an heirloom of the upright merchant. 

Years ago Abram S. Eldridge and Aug. Young worked together in the 
time office at the Cambria Rolling Mill, under the late Cyrus P. Tittle. They 
saw their business opportunity when Alex. Montgomery offered to sell them 
his book-store on Main street. The name of Eldridge & Young became as 
well known and as highly respected as any in town. They prospered as they 
deserved, and last winter Mr. Montgomery sold them his building. The flood 
came, and took them and Mr. Montgomery. Mr. Eldridge went down with 
the back porch of the Merchants' Hotel, on which he stepped from his sleep- 
ing room, where he had been spending the afternoon reading. A week later 
he was found, standing erect among the debris on the ground below. His 
partner was caught in the street and swept to an untimely death. Their 
bodies now lie side by side in Grand View. Mr. Eldridge was the representa- 
tive Henry George man of Western Pennsylvania and a personal friend of 
the author of "Progress and Poverty." Mr. Montgomery went down with 
Wild's building, at the corner of Main and Clinton streets, where he had his 
office. His body was recovered and taken to Greensburg for burial. Mr. 
Eldridge' s mother was also lost, as were his brothers Samuel B. and Pennel. 
Mrs. Young, besides her husband, lost two brothers and other relatives. S. 
Stewart Kinkead, clerk at the Gautier works, was with Mr. Eldridge in the 
Merchants' Hotel, where the two were reading. Alarmed by the cries of the 
servants, they started to see what was the matter and were met by the rising 
flood at the head of the stairway. They then ran to the front windows and 
up-stairs to the porch on the third story. A number of persons gathered on 
the porch. When they saw the large brick building of Foster & Quinn fall 
most of them concluded to leap to some floating debris, believing the hotel to 
be unsafe. Before their resolves could be put in practice the porch fell, and 
everybody with it. They were all submerged, and the most of them struck by 
floating logs and timbers. Mr. Kinkead got hold of a water-spout, clambered 
on the roof of Fentiman's umbrella store and was taken into the Fritz build- 
ing. He was the only one of the party who got out. 

The loss of life in the hotels was terrible. The remains of man)' of the 
servants and guests were taken from the ruins of the Hulbert House, The 
body of Charles H. Wilson, the clerk, was soon found. Other bodies recov- 
ered were Mrs. Dr. H. T. DeFrance ; Miss Carrie Richards, teacher in Eng- 
lish and Classical School, and her sister, from Ypsilanti, Mich., who was visit- 



2 1 6 THE STOR 3 ' OF JO HNS TO WN. 

ing her ; Miss Jennie Wells, teacher in the Johnstown High School, and her 
friend, Miss Carrie Diehl, of Shippensburg, Pa.; Miss Laura Hamilton, who 
entered the hallway a moment before the building went to pieces ; John W. 
Weakland, of the Marshall-Weakland Company ; Dr. C. C. Brinkley and his 
brother, Mr. Elmer Brinkley, clerk in the Gautier office ; Mr. C. A. Marshall, 
the Cambria Iron Company's builder; Mrs. J. L. Smith and her three 
children ; a number of traveling salesmen, and the brother, mother and two 
sisters of the host. It is thought that the wreckage of the Gautier works 
struck the building. Charles B. DeWald, of Altoona, is believed to have 
been the last person to enter the hotel. He arrived at Johnstown on Thurs- 
day and had worked hard on Friday assisting people to get out of their inun- 
dated houses. A friend suggested helping some more, but Charley said 
he was too wet and must go to the hotel. There the colored barber talked with 
him a few moments, promising to give him an order for a suit of clothes on 
his next trip. Mr. DeWald started up stairs to change his clothes. Soon the 
appalling rush of waters swept over the doomed valley, burying over fifty of 
the Hulbert guests. Among them was the Altoona salesman, whose body was 
not found until June 15th. It was uncovered a hundred feet from the site of 
the building, twenty feet of debris hiding it out of sight for two weeks. The 
remains were in a better state of preservation than many unearthed earlier. 
There was a hole in the forehead at the bridge of the nose, possibly caused 
by a nail striking him as he went under. Papers and letters in his clothing 
rendered identification easy. Charley was to have been married in a few 
weeks to a lady in Philadelphia, where his father lives and whither his re- 
mains were forwarded for burial. 

In the hotel of Robert Butler, on Cinder street, about thirty-five persons 
were lost. Not a single one of the bodies was identified. James O'Callaghan, 
his wife Bridget and daughter Ella, Mrs. Owens and son, Mr. Butler and 
family were among those who went with the hotel. 

Christ. Fitzharris, landlord of the St. Charles Hotel, his wife, father and 
eight children were drowned. Ella, aged 13, the only survivor of the large 
family, was attending school at Lilly's. Her grief at the loss of parents, 
brothers, sisters and home was inconsolable. For days the poor child could 
do nothing but sob and moan. The bodies were recovered on Monday. 
" Grandpap ' ' Fitzharris, the oldest victim of the flood, was in his ninety-eighth 
year. In his coffin, as seen by me on Monday evening, he looked not over 
sixty-five. His health was excellent and his constitution rugged. The nona- 
genarian expected to attain the year of his father — 106. Mr. Fitzharris was 
born in Ireland, but spent most of his life in Hollidaysburg, Blair County. 
He was a man of powerful physique, known in the locality as " the peace- 
maker. " This cognomen he acquired during '-old canal days " on account 
of his aversion to quarrels and his frequent intervention to prevent pugilistic 



SOME OF THE VICTIMS. 21 J 

encounters in his neighborhood. Not long before the flood he announced his 
intention of celebrating his hundredth birthday with an " old-fashioned shin- 
dig," at which he would dance in the Irish reel. Queer irony of fate — to round 
out almost a century with faculties unimpaired and drown at last in a cellar 
or a garret ! 

The ranks of the business men thinned greatly. John Geis, a leading mer- 
chant, went down with his big store. E. Clark perished in the Hulbert House, 
and his chief competitor — Mr. Nathan — in the store on Main street which he 
had long tenanted. Henry Goldenberg was overtaken in his clothing-store 
with his son Emanuel. Both rose to the ceiling, where the young man broke 
through'the skylight and escaped, his father drowning a few feet away. Jacob 
Swank, Mrs. Swank, 'their two children, daughter-in-law and grandchild were 
carried away with their home. William Parke, a member of the firm of Jacob 
Swank & Co., his mother, sister and little nephew were at their brick resi- 
dence, corner of Bedford and Levergood streets. The building crumbled, and 
all the occupants were killed. The four bodies were found in the debris near 
Fisher's slaughtery, on June nth. John Parke floated on some timbers to Main, 
in front of the Opera House, where Scott Dibert, Lou Cohn, and others res- 
cued him. He was badly injured and expired on Saturday evening. Vincent, 
son of James Quinn, was crossing from Geis & Schry's store to his home. His 
bod}' was found on June 7th, in the yard of Jacob Zimmerman's residence, 
Bedford street. He had sustained numerous injuries. Abbie, wife of John 
Geis, of Salina, Kansas, who was visiting the Quinns, was lost with her babe. 
George Unverzagt and son were lost in their store on Main street. Daniel 
Unverzagt, wife and two grown daughters — Mary and Lilly — were at home on 
Washington street, with Mrs. John Bending, Katie Bending and Jennie Bend- 
ing. All were swept away. M. S. Maloy was caught by the flood in the front 
door of his store as he was attempting to flee from the deluge. His body was 
found just inside the entrance. 

John G. Alexander, his wife and mother, died together. Samuel Lenhart, 
the harness dealer, Mrs. Lenhart and three daughters, Andy Gard and Jack 
Nightly were all swept away in Lenhart' s building on Clinton street. Charles 
Murr, the cigar manufacturer, and six children went down with his store and 
home on Washington street. Mrs. Murr and one child were rescued. The 
Creed family was wiped out except Edward, the only son. His parents and 
his sisters — Maggie, Kate and Mamie — were lost. The building, corner of 
Washington and Franklin streets, was a two-story brick structure. "Creed's 
corner" grocery was known to ever)f inhabitant of the valley. Alexander 
Reck, the extensive baker at the head of Washington street, and his wife, a 
woman of rare loveliness, were carried off with their home. He was taken 
out, but so much hurt that he died the next week in the hospital. Poor Aleck ! 
Three hours before the flood he rode around the submerged streets, stopped 



2 i8 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

in front of a hotel, called for a glass of beer, and drank to the prosperity of 
those incommoded by the high water. 

Three squares on Washington street footed up this frightful list of victims : 

Alex. Reck, wife and three children 5 

Miss Lamberd 1 

Mrs. Hager, two single daughters, and Louis Roland and wife 5 

M. J. Murphy, wife and two children 4 

W. A. Bryan, at Brunswick 1 

Mrs. Monteverde and three children 4 

Mrs. Meyers and daughter 2 

George Heiser and wife 2 

Child of B. F. Hill 1 

Maurice Newman and father 2 

David Creed, wife and three daughters 5 

William Kirby, wife, sister-in-law and James B. Howard 4 

Mrs. Kinney and two sons 3 

Captain O'Connell and two sisters 3 

George Raab, wife and two sisters 4 

' ' Granny " Kunkle and two daughters 3 

John Schiffhauer and daughter 2 

Jacob Bopp, and two daughters ' 3 

John Ryan, wife, mother, three daughters, domestic and driver 8 

Charles Murr, wife and five children 7 

Daniel Unverzagt, wife and two daughters 4 

Mrs. Bending and two daughters 3 

Jacob Malzi 1 

John Frank, wife and five children 7 

Sol. Rosenfelt, wife and four children 6 

Gottf reid Hoffman, wife and nine children n 

John Coad, wife, daughter, son, granddaughter and domestic 6 

Child of Neal Sharkey 1 

Frank O'Donnell, wife and four children 6 

Julius Stremel 1 

Mrs. John Merle, two children, lady clerk and domestic 5 

Alex. Kilgore, wife and three children : 5 

John Burkert's two children 2 

Mrs. Hirst and two grandchildren 3 

Mrs. Ogle and six others 7 

Mansion House porter 1 

Total 138 

There is little doubt that, the small extent of territory considered, Wash- 
ington street suffered greater loss of life in the flood than any other section. 
In addition to the above, there are possibly other names of which no account 
has been obtained. Besides, James M. Shumaker, who kept a store on the 
corner of Washington and Clinton streets, lost his wife and three children 
from his home en Locust street. John Fenn, who kept a stove store on 



SOME OF THE VICTIMS. 



219 



Washington street, was also drowned, together with his seven children on 
Locust street. 

John Dibert, the banker, would not leave his house, near the corner of 
Main and Market streets, and was killed. Mrs. Dibert was not seriously in- 
jured. The spacious residence was obliterated. Other members of the fam- 
ily lost were a daughter, the wife of Walter S. Weaver, and their child, and 
Blanche, little daughter of Mrs, John H. Dibert. One year before Mr. 
Weaver's store was burned out; in May it was flooded out and death added 
to his losses. The Diberts had rooms fitted up at Germantown, which they 




mOBSt 



m 



Wii 








JOHN DIBERT. 



MRS. JOHN DIBERT. 



proposed to occupy during the summer. Mr. Dibert was a prominent citizen, 
widely known and deservedly esteemed. The bank was originally conducted 
by three partners, one of whom died last year. The removal of the senior 
member of the firm by the flood led the survivor — Mr. Roberts — to put the bank 
into liquidation. A brother of Mr. Dibert had torn down the building opposite 
the bank, corner Main and Franklin streets, to replace it with a substantial 
brick block. He took sick from the flood and died. In the old building J. Q. 
A. Benschoof, whom young and old knew and patronized for his good humor, 
kept a news-room and book-store for 5'ears, vacating on April 1st. The post- 
office stands in the rear of this lot, fronting on Franklin street. Next to it 
Alvar Akers and his partner, Mr. Bauman, had started a new block for their 
store, with offices above. It had progressed to the second story when the de- 
luge cut down Mr. Akers and interrupted the plan which contemplated an 



2 20 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

important extension of the business. How man}' projects the Johnstown dis- 
aster buried in graves from which there will be resurrection ! 

'Squire Fisher's family, consisting of himself, wife and six children, were 
found locked tightly in each other's arms. The servant was lying near by. 
The daughters were handsome girls, with bewitching faces set in frames of 
golden hair. One had been away at school, and returned home to be married 
to her betrothed. Then she was to return to school and take part in the 
graduating exercises. The familiar figure of the 'Squire is sadly missed by 
the neighbors, who find a strange void as they pass his office and fail to hear 
the cordial greeting of the departed occupant, who was one of the old-time 
functionaries of the town. 

One man known to every resident of Johnstown — William Huffman, the 
merchant tailor — was drowned with twenty-nine of his relatives. These were 
his wife and ten children ; his brother, Gottlieb Huffman, wife and nine chil- 
dren ; his sister-in-law, Mrs. H. Huffman and four children ; Peter Huffman, 
another brother. Mrs. C. H. Huffman's little daughter, aged eight years, was 
absent. This poor child was at the morgue on Monday, accompanied by two 
ladies, and said : 

"Oh, mister, do please tell me if my mother is here ! I want to see her. I am Lizzie Huff- 
man, and all my brothers and sisters have gone down the river." 

Many families suffered cruelly. The drowning of the venerable Mrs. Judge 
Roberts and her daughter, Mrs. John S. Buchanan, left two of this once nu- 
merous and prominent family living. Only three members of the Pike family 
survived : Robert, the eldest son, who saved himself from the flood ; George, 
the third son, who was rescued by Alexander Hamilton while floating up 
through Kernville on the roof of his house, and Annie, the youngest daughter, 
who was visiting in Baltimore. The family of John Fritz, jr., of Hornerstown, 
came in to Mr. Fritz's father's, on Railroad street, for safety, and were carried 
down the river. Of the twelve persons in the house at the time eight were 
lost. Mr. Fritz, sr. , and Mr. Golde got out at Kennedy's lime-house in the 
Fourth Ward. Charley, the plumber, got out at Sheridan Station ; Mrs. Fritz, 
sr., two miles below Nineveh. On Friday morning Josiah T. Evans, Mine 
Inspector of the Sixth District, procured a carriage to take his wife and their 
four children from their residence on Vine street. At first it was intended to 
go to Prospect, but it was found impossible because of the high water. Kern- 
ville was suggested, but Mrs. Evans, knowing that the Franklin-street bridge 
had been damaged, refused to cross it. Finally it was decided to remain at 
the residence of Henr)' Pritchard, on Market street. In this building Mr. and 
Mrs. Pritchard and three children and Mrs. Evans and her four children per- 
ished. Maggie, wife of Noah Evans, and her three children and Mrs. John 
Llewellyn were found dead in a room in a house back of Cobaugh's store. 
Mrs. Evans was sitting in a chair with her babe in her arms. John, Frank 



SOME OF THE VICTIMS. 22 1 

and Edgar, sons of Patrick Lavelle, Conemaugh street ; Mrs. John Lavelle, of 
Broad street, and Michael, Kate, Mary, and Sallie Lavelle, all of Broad street, 
were lost. Myrtle Viola Jones, aged 5, alone survives of the family of 'Squire 
Richard Jones. Some person found her wandering about the hill above Wood- 
vale and took charge of her. Mr. and Mrs. Millard F. Roberts started from 
their home on the South Side for the hill. Mrs. Roberts got to David Dibert's 
yard. Her body was found on Sunday two blocks away. Her mother, sister 
and three brothers went down. Mr. Roberts was rescued at Shaeffer's saloon. 
From John White's house, on Vine street, six out of a family of twelve were 
taken — Mrs. White, Misses Ella and Maggie White, Mrs. Jessie Delaney, Mrs. 
A. C. White and boy. 

Not a man, woman or child in Johnstown but knew Ben. Hoffman, the 
hackman. He was also known to the traveling public from his long service in 
transferring passengers to and from the Pennsylvania railroad station. Mr. 
Hoffman was lost with his wife; Bertha, iyyears; Marion, 13; Joseph, 9; Freda, 
5 ; Florence, 7. Harry and Will, the two older boys, are the survivors. He liv- 
ed on Lincoln street, and his body was found seated on the edge of the bed- 
stead. He was preparing to retire when the flood struck the building and had 
his socks in his pocket. His eldest daughter, a very pretty and charming 
girl, was close by ; attired in a night-dress. The youngest member of the 
family was also beside the bed. Mr. Hoffman's punctuality was proverbial. 
No matter what train passengers desired to take, he would have them at the 
depot in good season. The cheery voice of the accommodating hack-driver 
was as regular a feature as the whistle of the iron works or the bell which 
rang the fleeting hours. 

A well-known place in town was " Coad's Corner, " at Washington and 
Market streets. John Coad and his family occupied the residence portion of 
the building and kept a saloon in the room on the corner. A daughter, Mrs. 
Halloran, had a shoe-store in an apartment fronting on Washington street. 
The house was entirely swept away with Mr. and Mrs. Coad, their daughter, 
granddaughter and grandson. John, Thomas and Peter, their sons, were not 
at home, and avoided a watery grave. 

Charles Wiseman and family lived on River alley, but were all at Gust. 
Aibler's, no Portage street. The house was broken to pieces by the flood 
and the inmates floated off in various directions. Mrs. Wiseman had her little 
son in charge, but he was knocked out of her arms and lost. She succeeded in 
climbing on a roof and was saved. Mr. Wiseman had his little daughter in 
his arms and both were lost, as were all the Aiblers — seven out of the house. 

Samuel Eldridge was the only policeman lost. His wife was at her home, 
with her two little daughters and the baby. Her husband left the house about 
three o'clock, against his wife's protest, sayiug that there were many people 
who needed help and it was his duty to aid all he could. He promised to re- 



222 



THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 



turn the moment he was convinced there was danger. The flood caught him 
in the street and swept him to his death. Mrs. Eldridge and her children 
spent the night in the attic of their house, which was sheltered in some way 
and is still standing, though everything in it was destroyed. The children took 
the Bible with them to their place of refuge, and little Sarah, aged seven, 
prayed on it all night for her papa. When morning came and Mr. Eldridge 
did not appear, his wife knew he had been lost. His body was one of the first 
to be recovered. One daughter was all left of Officer Jones' family of seven. 

Chief-of-Police Harris, who has one boy out of a family of six, five of them 
going down with their mother, was unable to be around for a week after his 
terrible affliction. How he missed the gentle ministrations of his loving wife 
and the caresses of the children in his illness ! Oh, the bitter sorrows that 
manly hearts had to bear in silence, while faithful memory recalled the blissful 
days spent with the dear ones about whom the deepest affections of the soul 
twined fondly. 

Three lawyers — Theodore Zimmerman, J. W. Weakland and Harry G. 
Rose — answered the subpoena which is not to be eluded or enjoined. Mr. 
Zimmerman's horses and buggy stood in front of his office on Franklin street 

to take him home. With their 
owner they were overwhelmed, one 
wheel of the carriage and the car- 
casses of the horses showing in a 
mass of wreckage until taken out 
on Monday. Mr. Weakland was 
in the Hulbert House. His body 
was found near the corner of Main 
and Clinton streets, on Monday. 
The watch in his pocket started up 
when wound, just as though nothing 
had happened it. The flood de- 
stroyed the residence of Rev. James 
A. Lane, on Locust street. Mr. 
and Mrs. Lane, Harry G. Rose and 
his wife, "Grandmother" Teeter, 
and Christina Fiek, a domestic, 
were in the house. Mr. Lane was 
in the water before the deluge put- 
ting things in places of safety, when 
the front door flew open and Mr. Rose went down to close it. He called to 
Mr. Lane that the current was too swift, and his father-in-law started to help 
him, but logs began coming in. Mr. Lane told him to make for the up-stairs. 




HARRY G. ROSE. 



SOME OF THE VICTIMS. 223 

They both started, all the other members of the family having preceded them. 
As the}' reached the third floor Mr. Lane heard Mr. Rose say to his wife : 

"Give me your hand and we will die together. Lord, save us !" 

At that moment Mr. Lane was knocked backward down stairs, but reached 
up and gained his feet. A second and third time he was knocked back. Then 
his suspenders caught in the rubbish, his whole body under the water. He 
took out his knife, cut himself loose, got hold of timbers and called for the 
various members of the family. His wife answered ; so also did his daughter, 
Mrs. Rose. Mr. Rose did not respond. He was dead. "Grandmother" 
Teeter replied. Miss Fiek had got out through the roof. By the aid of 
friends Mr. Lane and his family reached the roof, only to get into another 
wrecked house, tossing to and fro on the surging mass of debris. "Grand- 
mother ' ' Teeter had her right arm cut off below the elbow by the breaking of 
a plate-glass mirror. It had to be amputated, and a week later the aged 
lady — she was 83 — expired from the shock. After remaining in the wreck until 
Saturday evening, Mr. Lane and his family were taken to Morrell Institute 
and thence to Prospect. The remains of Mr. Rose were taken on Saturday 
evening to the railroad morgue and embalmed. On Tuesday afternoon the 
bod} r was interred on Prospect Hill. 

A black storm-cloud was driving hard from the West as the coffin was low- 
ered into its temporary grave beside unknown victims. Three people attend- 
ed the burial — Mr. Lane, the Rev. Dr. H. L. Chapman, of the Methodist 
Episcopal Church, and the Rev. L. Maguire. Dr Chapman read the funeral 
service, and while he prayed the thunder rumbled and clouds darkened the 
scene. Mr. Rose was a young man, highly gifted and popular. He was serv- 
ing his term as District Attorney of Cambria county, an arduous and respons- 
ible trust, the duties of which he discharged efficiently. His brother, Hon. 
John M. Rose, a member of the Legislature, was out of town and escaped 
the wreck of his home, from which not an article was saved. Mr. George 
Slick, father-in. law of John M., contracted pneumonia from exposure and died 
the second week in June. 

Three doctors went down to the doom which medical skill could not ward 
off. Dr. C. C. Brinkley had practiced successfully in Johnstown about five years. 
He and his brother were among the victims in the Hulbert House. Dr. J. K. 
Lee was eminent in his profession. He occupied a fine home and office on 
Vine street, which were flooded to the second floor. His body was found on 
June 9th, in Sandyvale Cemetery. Dr. W. C. Beam, his wife and one son, 
aged 2, were not sundered in death. Another son, spared to mourn the loss of 
kind parents, was taken to Harrisburg to live with relatives. Luke's epithet, 
"the beloved physician," may well be applied to each of these lamented 
practitioners. Their inspiring presence and masterly treatment have been 
missed in manv a sick room. 



224 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

The flood proved fatal to thirteen teachers, a very large proportion of the 
whole number engaged in the public schools. They were : 

Johnstown. — Misses Mattie McDivitt, Maggie Jones, Emma K. Fisher, Laura Hamilton, 
Mary P. White, Jennie M. Wells, Minnie Linton and Carrie Richards. 
Conemaugh. — Miss Rose Carroll. 

Millville. — Prof. C. F. Gallagher and Mary Dowling. 
Morrellville. — Kate McAneeny. 

Miss Diehl, a teacher from Shippensburg, was visiting Miss Wells and 
died with her hostess in the Hulbert House, where Miss Hamilton and Miss 
Richards also perished. Miss Linton was at the Western Union Telegraph 
office, with Miss Minnie Ogle. The two young ladies, Mrs. Ogle, Miss Gracie 
Garman and Miss Mary Jane Watkins, telegraphers, were lost. The body of 
Prof. Gallagher was found near the Baltimore & Ohio depot. Several of the 
teachers had filled their positions fqx years, such was their aptitude for the 
work. The Johnstown schools held a high place for thorough training and 
discipline, and the loss of so many experienced instructors was a severe blow 
to the educational interests of the community. No more shall these skillful 
teachers train the youthful mind, mould the childish heart and guide the little 
hands to habits of usefulness and deeds of kindness. But the good seed they 
have sowed shall be bearing rich fruit when the weeds cover their graves and 
moss has grown over their tombstones. 

" They died, aye, they died — and we things that are now, 
Who walk on the turf that lies over their brow, 
Who make in their dwelling a transient abode, 
Meet the things that they met on their pilgrimage road ; 
And the smiles and the tears, the song and the dirge, 
Still follow each other like surge upon surge." 

Katie and Minnie Bracken, of Woodvale, two charming sisters, were bur- 
ied on August 15. They were the only daughters of devoted parents, who 
escaped with two sons. The double funeral attracted unusual attention, fam- 
iliar though the public had been with these mournful corteges for two weary 
months. Minnie had light hair, which fell in wavy folds to her knees. 

Like Miss Cora Wagner, pretty, vivacious Mamie Fink, daughter of Prof. 
S. P. Fink, was a musical attraction at entertainments for benevolent purposes 
and sang in a church choir. Her cultivated voice will be sadly missed on such 
occasions. A touching incident marked her last moments. Mr. and Mrs. 
John Higson, four daughters and one son, Miss Sadie Thomas and Mr. An- 
derson floated away on the roof their house, Walnut street. As they passed 
down Conemaugh street they saw McConaughy's brick row going. Mamie 
threw Mrs. Higson a kiss and said "Good-bye" as she sank into the water. 
Mr. Higson and those with him were rescued at the stone bridge. Miss Fink's 
body was recovered, with her jewelry as she wore it that Friday afternoon. 
Her father and grandmother were not found, and one brother is the only re- 
maining member of the Fink family. 

Another sweet singer was Mrs. F. Williams, a lady of fine presence and 



SOME OF THE VICTIMS. 225 

engaging manners, who took solo parts in the Welsh choirs. The great ma- 
jority of the Welsh owned their own homes and were prudent and prosperous 
citizens. Dr. Walters, whose office on Vine street was hustled to the railroad 
bridge, prepared a partial list of the loss of life among this nationality. He 
enrolled 140 victims, which may be regarded as approximately correct, and 
estimated the Welsh loss of property at upwards of a million dollars. The 
names on the Doctor's paper were : 

Vine Street. — Mrs. Josiah T. Evans and four children, Mrs. Noah Llewellyn, and three 
children, Mrs. John Llewellyn, Rev. E. W. Jones and wife, boy of David J. Jenkins, Mrs. 
John E. Jones, two children of Robert L. Rees 

Market Street. — H. Pritchard, wife and three children ; Thomas S. Davis, wife and five 
children ; William Owen, wife and two grandchildren ; Mrs. J. T. Harris and five children ; 
Mrs. D. D. Rees ; two children of Evan A. James; child of R. R. Thomas ; child of Lewis John 
Harris ; John Richards, on a visit from Rome, N. Y. , and William L. Davis. 

Main Street. — Mrs. John W. James and son ; Evan Hughes and daughter ; wife of Rev. 
Mr. Evans. 

Locust Street. — Mrs. Aubrey Parsons, Mrs. Jenkin Thomas and three children ; Mrs. 
Phil Davis and daughter. 

Walnut Street. — Job Morgan, Mrs. William T. Harris ; child of Thomas Llewellyn. 

Potts Street. — Emma Hughes. 

Chestnut Street. — Albert Wherry. 

Union Street. — John Howells, wife and child ; Mrs. Davis Evans, Mrs. R. R. Edwards ; 
William Howells, wife and daughter ; John Andrews, William J. Williams, Mrs. J. D. Jones 
and six children ; Mrs. D. Richards, Mrs. John Rees Powell. 

Lincoln Street. — Mrs. Ben. James. 

River Street. — James Jones and two children ; Thos. Aubrey, Mrs. Evan Morgan, Wil- 
liam McMeans, Mrs. Moses Owen and five children ; Mrs. Worthington and three children ; 
Mrs. Williams, Joseph Williams, Minerva Harris, George Heisel. 

Iron Street, Millville. — Roger Edwards, Mrs. Lewis R. Jones, Mrs. William Cadogan 
and daughter ; Mrs. Edward Evans and five children ; Mrs. Annaniah Lewis, Mrs. T. P. Wil- 
liams and child ; Lizzie Lewis, Oril Lewis, Mrs. Abram Price and child ; Miss Tydvil 
Thomas, Mrs. Wm. T. Morgan and two children ; two children of Mrs. Thomas Owen, James 
Lewis. 

Woodvale. — Evan B. Evans, wife and child ; Mrs. Davis and five children ; Thomas Jones, 
and family ; Richard Jones and five children. 

Conemaugh Borough. — Mrs. Wm. W. Jones and three children. 

Her children were leading Mrs. McConaughy up-stairs, hoping it would be 
a safe place for their mother. The excitement overcame her and she died in 
the hallway. The building tumbled and the body was carried off. 

Misses Jennie and Mary White, daughters of the head of the millinery de- 
partment of the Cambria Iron Company's store, noted for their personal 
charms and animation, were not divided in death. 'Squire Strayer's amiable 
family and scores more might be mentioned. Woodvale and the Second and 
Third wards of Johnstown had not a resident voter on June 1st. Only three 
houses remained on the east side of Bedford street, between Main and the 
railroad. Could anything make clearer the appalling destruction of life which 
this implies ? 



22& THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

Every town has its local " characters. ' ' The flood treated those of J ohns- 
town impartially, taking and leaving them about equally. "Old Kelly," the 
aged colored man, a familiar personage on the streets for a generation, still 
lives. He has survived murderous assaults, frosts, fires and floods innumerable, 
and does not look much older than when, twenty odd years ago, Alvar Akers 
picked him out of the gutter in front of the Methodist church one winter morn- 
ing frozen almost lifeless. Sam. Etchison and Hannah Hopkins are gone, but 
"Brooks" Hoffman lingers. Tom Knox was cut down, but Tom Jenks and 
JackTreese remain. Poor Hannah and Sam ! All will hope that in the brighter 
world the cloud has been lifted from their minds, and that reparation will be 
made for their unhappy existence upon the earth. 

A Chinaman and several negroes took their last journey, the Mongolian 
copy of Bret Harte's " Ah Sin " drifting to Kernville with a section of his 
laundry. "Tuggie" Tanner, one of the blacks, enjoyed the distinction — a 
novelty in African circles — of a head of hair fiery red. He mounted a log and 
sailed along singing, "Johnny, Get Your Gun," just as if he were going to a 
plantation frolic. That he had no idea of drowning is quite certain, from the 
fact that he could have got ashore two or three times. Doubtless he intended 
to jump off about the mouth of the creek, but he fell a victim to his reckless- 
ness. A blow tumbled him off his log and he disappeared. Neither "Johnny" 
nor anybody else needed a gun to dispatch ' ' Tuggie ' ' to the Kingdom Come ! 

Robert H. Bridges, the mail-carrier, as soon as possible compiled the 
names of those lost in Cambria Borough, where he lives. He took the ut- 
most pains to verify his report, which is accepted as conclusive. From it 
these figures are summarized : 

Made widowers, 42 ; made widows, 12 ; number of families entirely wiped out of existence, 
16 ; number of families who lost all but one, 46 ; number of Irish lost, 105 ; number of Germans, 
116 ; number of Hungarians, 58 ; number of Poles,- 11 ; number of Americans, 35 ; one family 
lost nine, four families lost eight each, five families lost six each, six families lost five each, 
nineteen families lost four each, seventeen families lost three each, twenty-three families lost 
two each, fifty families lost one each. The number lost on Front street was 39 ; Railroad street, 
' 38 ; Broad street, 66 ; Chestnut street, 128 ; Walnut street, 52 ; total, 323. 

Three sisters of County. Treasurer Howe appear in the list, with the names 
of numerous prominent people. Many names have the flavor which betrays 
the foreign nativity of their wearers. Mr. Bridges enumerated them in full. 
From his complete list the following are condensed : 

Front Street. — Frank A. Wier, Mrs. Julia McLaughlin, Mrs. John H. Todd, Minnie and 
Sylvester Thomas ; Thomas Fogarty, James Cullen, wife and daughter ; Miss Alice Cleary, 
Mary A. and Maggie Dougherty ; Mrs. Bridget and James and Edward O'Neal ; James and 
Mary A. and Eddie Lightner ; Miss Emma and Charlie Bridges ; Mrs Ann and John W. Kelly, 
David Gillis ; Mrs. Mary, Annie and Mary Doorocsik ; Mrs. Annie and Frank Bartos, John 
Mihalko, Louis Pollak, Fidel and Mrs. Schnell ; John H. and Annie Miller ; George Graiczer ; 
Rosie, Isaac and Annie Weisz. 

Railroad Street. — Mrs. Bridget, Rose, Maggie, Lizzie, Gertie and Bridget Howe ; Mrs. 



SOME OF THE VICTIMS. 



227 



Bridget, Gertie, Mary, Katie and Annie Riley ; Mrs. Ann, John and Mary Kane ; Rosie McPike ; 
Mrs. Ann, Daniel, Joseph, Annie, Mrs. Tillie and Tommy Cush ; Mrs. Jane, Michael, Thomas, 
Mary, John, Annie, Rose and Agnes Gertrude Hayes ; Mrs. Mary Sininger ; Mrs. Rose, John, 
Albert and Theodore Panian ; Mrs. Dorothy, Mary and Annie Tokar. 

Broad Street. — Charles, Mary, Charlie. Tommy, Rosie, Bridget, Willie and Josie Boyle ; 
Neal, Mrs. Annie, Rose, Katie, Mary, Willie, Sadie, Agnes and Annie McAneeny ; John C. 
Beneigh, Andrew Dudzik, Mrs. Annie Spicsak ; George, Mrs. Sophia, Jennie and Lawrence 
Greenwood ; Viola, Sarah Jane, Ida M. and Ella Varner, infant (no name) ; Mrs. Mary, Ellie 
and Lizzie Fitzpatrick ; Susie Ward, Mrs. Abbie Grady, Julius Bischof, August Mickie, Mike 
Dudzik ; Jacob and Mrs. Sophia Wavrek and Michael Totas ; Ignatius Fischer, Maggie, Katie, 
George and Eddie Fischer ; Mrs. Ella and John Leo Heider ; Mrs. Teresa Laban, Mrs. Jane 
McAleer ; John, Mrs. Mary, Mary, Katie and Frances Hinnihan ; Mrs. Catharine and Dafney 
Keelan ; Mrs. Katie, Bernard and John Grant ; Mrs. Teresa and John Takacs ; Mrs. Ellen, 
John and Katie Gafney, Louis Jacobs. 

Chestnut Street. — Mrs. Krescence and Barbara Sarlouis ; Mrs. Lizzie, Henry and 
Joseph Heine ; Johanna Fisher ; Nicodemus, Mrs. Teresa and Mary Amps ; Joseph, Mrs. 
Victoria, Joseph, Conrad and Mary Ann Osterman ; Amelia Dietrich, Augusta Foling ; Mrs. 
Theresa, John Thomas and Francis George Cuiliton; Mrs. Eva and John Weber ; John L., 
Mrs. Amelia and Willie Smith ; Antone and Mrs. Barron ; Mrs. Lena, Eddie and Willie Just ; 
Ferdinand and Jacob Weisz ; Mary, Theresa, Katie and Mrs. Mary Kintz ; Peter Mrs., 
Margaret. Frank, John and Willie Nitch ; Mrs. Barbara, Mary, Katie, Willie and John Lam- 
briski ; Mrs. Stanislauva, Miss Stanislauva, Josie and Sophia Skiba ; Mrs. Mary, Maggie and 
Martin Michalitch ; Mrs. Ann and Regine Feckenstine ; Mrs. Frederica, Hortalina, Frank 
and Charles Smith ; Harry and Eddie Hirsch ; Pankrotz and Mrs. Lena Brutz, Lena Fish ; 
John C, Mrs. Margaret, Rose and Vincent Gaerber ; Antone and Albert Wolf ; Jacob and 
Mrs. Mary Shaffer ; Samuel, Mrs. Martha, John, Smith, Mary, Eva, James and Philip Mc- 
Carron ; Mrs. Bessie, Flora and Mary Benson ; George and Mrs. Ann Alt ; George, Mrs. 
Mary, John and Eddie Miller ; Katie and Sophia Ritter, Joseph and Mrs. Mary Meyers ; 
Anton, Anton, Jr., Maxamillian and Wilhelmina Schittenhelm ; Mrs. Fredera and Joseph 
Hessler ; Louis, Mrs. Mary, Annie, Martha, Sarah, Mollie, John and George Weinzeirl ; Albert, 
Frederick, Mrs. Johanna, Mary, John and Albert Melczer ; Aug. Schanvisky, Mary D. Hess- 
ler, Michael Louther, Mrs. Mary Martinades, Jacob and Mary Dluhos ; Mrs. Mary, Willie, 
Leo and Sophia Smith ; Mrs. Annie Lambright, Mike Doiny, Emrich Moser ; Albert, 
Wilhelmina and Mary Roth. 

Walnut Street. — Mrs. Mary, Katie and Willie Madden ; Mrs. Annie and Philip Smith ; 
Mrs. Annie and Miss Annie Alberter ; Bernard Garvey, Patrick and Mrs. Sarah Carr ; Chris- 
topher, Mrs. Catharine, Annie and Willie Craigg ; Mrs. Augustina, August, Antone and Annie 
Schmidt ; John, Verona, Stephen, Bella, Annie and August Geczie ; Mrs. Mary, Mary, Annie 
and Lizzie Siroczki ; Mrs. Mary, Katie, Joseph Stinely and Annie Stinely ; Fred. Stakeman, 
Thomas Walsh, Mrs. Mary Marczi, Mrs. Ellen Dignon, Karl Shaffer, Mrs. Magdalina Brown ; 
Mrs. Agnes, Katie and Frank Beltzler ; Julius and Matilda Puky, Mrs. Catharine Hammill, 
Mrs. Theresa Hanki ; Henry, Mrs. Henry, Johnny and Frank Wagnor ; Mrs. Mary Koebler, 
Miklosz Fedorizen. 

Shall the lessons and the meaning of these deaths be lost ? Too often men 
and women do not learn them because the}' take short-sighted views of things 
and cannot see through their tears. Most of the survivors may find relief in 
the opinions of others who have gone through the hot furnace of affliction. 
Thackeray — big-hearted and attached to his friends — drank deeply of the cup 



228 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWh. 

of sorrow. In the midst of it all he wrote to an associate whose society he 
prized very highly : 

"I don't pity anybody who leaves the world, not even a fair young girl in her prime ; I 
pity those remaining. On her journey, if it pleases God to send her, depend on it, there's no 
cause for grief ; that's but an earthly condition. Out of our stormy life, and brought nearer 
the Divine light and warmth, there must be a serene climate. Can't you fancy sailing into the 
calm ? Would you care about going on the voyage, but for the dear souls left behind on the 
other shore ? But we shan't be parted from them, no doubt, though they are from us. Add a 
little more intelligence to that which we possess even as we are, and why shouldn't we be with 
our friends, though ever so far ? * * Our body removed, why shouldn't we personally be 
anywhere at will ? The body being removed or elsewhere disposed of and developed, sorrow 
and its opposite, crime and the reverse, ease and disease, desire and dislike, go along with the 
body — a lucid intelligence remains, a perception ubiquitous." 

For some left behind on "this lonely shore of existence" it is hard to dis- 
cern in death what it really is, a step in a necessary process whose law is pro- 
gress. When a young lad is called from his happy games, on the threshold 
of a promising career ; or when a young girl, wearing the sweet rose of youth, 
with the brightness and the promise and the glory of God's fair world before 
her and about her, is called to the life beyond, the afflicted heart can see but 
little that is compensatory. But time and the ultimate event will reveal "the 
deep remedial force that underlies all fact." Yet there was no reason why 
Johnstown should have been scourged and thousands of its best and fairest 
launched into eternity unwarned. 




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XVII. 



SLAUGHTER OF THE INNOCENTS. 

Lamentable Scarcity of Children After the Flood — Boys and Girls of Tender 
Years Drowned by Hundreds — Doom of the Fenn Family — Prattlers whose 
Voices are Hushed Forever — The Light and Joy of Many Households Extin- 
guished by the Cruel Waters — Tiny Coffins — Buried with Her Doll — Little 
Folks who were Universal Favorites — The Saddest Feature of the Overwhelm- 
ing Calamity — Why Loving Hearts Ache. 



" Gem of our hearth, our household pride. 
Earth's undefined, 
Could love have saved thou hadst not died, 

Our dear, sweet child !' 
Humbly we bow to Fate's decree ; 
Yet had we hoped that Time should see 
Thee mourn for us, not us for thee." — D. M. Moir. 



A.PS the saddest feature of the disaster was the dreadful 
ighter of the children. Shut in the houses by high water in 
forenoon, hundreds fell an easy prey to the cruel deluge. 
The flood outdid Herod in its effort to extirpate juvenile 
life. After its dreadful work was done the lamentable 
scarcity of children impressed itself painfully upon every 
mind. The cries of babies, the prattle of infants, the 
merry laughter of boys and girls were sel- 
dom heard. The lack of animation in the 
boys, previously bubbling over with fun and 
rollicking humor, wasltoo apparent to pass 
unheeded. They took no interest in the ar- 
rival of the trains, the unloading of pro- 
visions, or any of the exciting scenes which 
the calamity occasioned. The little girls 
A little girl drifting to death. — there were not enough of them to be in 
anybody's way or to attract the slightest bit of attention. "God help us," 
said a minister as he moved among the people, "where are the children?" 




232 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

Where ? Little coffins were everywhere — little forms tightly clasped in the 
embrace of dead mothers — tiny babes whose eyes had never seen the light of 
day lay stiff and cold with the rest. The small mounds in all the Johns- 
town cemeteries tell where the children are. Rachel was the prototype of 
weeping mothers whose lives are shadowed because the sunlight died with 
their little ones in the flood. A community bereft of its children is the bitterest 
evidence of the horrible devastation. 

Last Christmas there were stockings to hang up in many a Johnstown 
home — stockings with a hole in one little foot and the heel worn thin in the 
other. For the Christmas of 1889 there are none in hundreds of these deso- 
late dwellings. Last year people hunted the toy-stores and confectioneries 
for the newest and nicest things for their confiding little ones, who longed for 
Santa Claus. This year they pass the bedecked windows with bowed heads 
and a strange pain tugging at their heart-strings. Tears come to childless 
mothers as they see little hands held tightly by doting parents and hear the 
laughing-eyed elf tell of hopes and plans for the winter. Lips cannot keep 
from trembling and tear-dimmed eyes from gazing wistfully at dear little pets 
with golden curls nestling in a parent's lap while their own treasures are un- 
der the sod or lying in the mud somewhere along the Conemaugh. Their 
own child had walked the streets, climbed on their knees and ridden home in 
the horse-cars on Christmas eve a year ago. After they had coaxed him into 
his night-clothes that night, and heard his little prayers, with the final "God 
bless papa and mamma," they put him to bed and filled the two little stock- 
ing so full and piled high the chair on which they hung ! They could hardly 
sleep for thinking of what he would do and say when Christmas morning came. 
This year they are alone. They sit silently. The wife tries to read her 
favorite magazine, but her eyes are closed behind its pages. The husband 
says he will go out on the porch and smoke. But the cigar was not lighted 
in the whole hour he remained without. They were having a Christmas tree 
for a neighbor's little boy across the street. He could see the tree and the 
boy dancing around it. He knew and felt that his boy was safe in the arms of 
of the One who carries the young lambs in His bosom, but he could not help 
crying out : 

"My baby, I want you myself ! My heart is lonely and empty without you !" 

The curtain may be up a few inches, and he might see his wife on her 
knees. ' What did she have in her hands, kissing them again and again with 
sobs and tears ? The little stockings that were hung up last Christmas. She 
may " out-grow it " or " get used to it, " but this is the first Christmas she has had 
to live through since the joy and pride of the household went down in the flood. 

" We shall roam on the banks of the river of peace, 
And dwell on its crystal tide, 
And one of the joys of our heaven will be 
The little boy that died. ' 



SLAUGHTER OF THE INNOCENTS. 233 

If the plucking of one fair blossom inflicts such a pang, how great a wave 
of 'sympathy should go out for those crushed by the loss of all their buds of 
promise at a stroke ! Were there instances of this kind ? Yes, many of them. 
Listen to one : John Fenn, a prosperous tinner and stove-dealer, was born in 
Johnstown and held in high esteem for industry and integrity. He had a de- 
voted wife and seven bright children, upon whom the fond parents lavished 
their warmest affection. His store was on Washington street and his resi- 
dence near the corner of Locust and Franklin. On the day of the flood he 
helped neighbors move goods and furniture to their upper floors. In the after- 
noon, the water having risen two feet above the pavement in front of his house, 
he went out for provisions. During his absence the torrent from the South- 
Fork dam swept the town, overtaking him in the street. Two doors from his 
home, which he was struggling hard to reach, the wave enveloped him. A 
piece of timber struck him on the head and he sank to rise no more. A mo- 
ment before, he called to an acquaintance in a window across the street : 
" Say good-bye for me to my family !" 

These were the last words of the tender husband and father, from whose 
thoughts the approach of certain doom could not drive the image of his 
household treasures. Mrs. Fenn and the children drifted off with the house, 
in which the water rose within a short distance of the ceiling of the second 
story. The agonized mother clasped her baby to her bosom, the rest of the 
children clutching her arms and dress. The fight for life was brief, one after 
another drowning rapidly. The baby perished first, then the younger chil- 
dren, until the seven were gone. Mrs. Fenn contrived to break a hole 
through the floor and get upon the roof, which floated to the school-house at 
the foot of Vine street. There she remained until noon on Saturday, the frail 
craft settling in the wreckage, and was nearly dead when rescued. The roof 
had parted from the house, and no trace of the missing children or of Mr. 
Fenn could be discovered. A gold watch and $900 in money, locked in a 
bureau drawer, were lost. Not a fragment of the building or its contents, ex- 
cept a clock and a picture, has been seen. It is singular that a picture taken from 
the ruins of the convent proved to be a photograph of Mr. Fenn as he stood 
in his shop-door. Later two photographs, stuck together firmly, were found 
in Stony Creek. They were cabinets of Miss Beale and the eldest of the 
Fenn daughters. The former was the music-teacher of the little girl and the 
pictures had probably come from the residence of Rev. Dr. Beale, pastor of 
the Presbyterian church. The widowed, childless mother, deprived at once 
of husband and offspring, bowed down with an inexpressible weight of woe, 
searched incessantly among the dead gathered from the streams and piles of 
wreck, hoping to find her darlings. Her grief was too poignant for loud la- 
mentations, but the pained face betokened the inward anguish. Standing on 
a heap of debris twenty rods from her wasted home, in a drizzling rain, from 



234 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

her own white lips, which twitched and quivered with pain, came to me on 
Monday forenoon, forty hours after the flood, this sad recital : 

" We were so happy on Thursday night ! A little company had come to congratulate a 
friend who was just married. On Friday forenoon my husband was at his store. The water 
rose so that he set up some of the tinware and then helped the neighbors move their furniture. 
He stayed in the house a good while after dinner, going out about three o'clock. The water 
was over the sidewalk and he went to get some food, as the cellar was inundated. That was 
the last we saw of him. I heard yesterday that he got within two doors of home, called a 
farewell message to us and was struck down. I heard a noise, like buildings falling, and told 
the children to run up-stairs. Before we all got up the water rushed through the doors and 
windows and caught us. I had the baby in my arms and the other children climbed on the 
lounge and table. The water rose and floated us until our heads nearly touched the ceiling. 
I held the baby as long as I could and then had to let her drop into the water. George had 
grasped the curtain pole and was holding on. Something crashed against the house, broke a 
hole in the wall and a lot of bricks struck my boy on the head. The blood gushed from his 
face, he loosed his hold and sank out of sight. Oh, it was too terrible ! " 

" My brave little Bismarck went next. Anna, her father's pet, was near enough to kiss me 
before she slipped under the water. It was dark and the house was tossing every way. The air 
was stifling, and I could not tell just the moment the rest of the children had to give up and 
drown. My oldest boy, John Fulton, kept his head above the water as long as he was able. 
At last he said : ' Mother, you always said Jesus would help. Will he help us now ? ' What 
could I do but answer that Jesus would be with him, whether in this world or the brighter one 
beyond the skies. He thought we might get out into the open air. We could not force a way 
through the wall or the ceiling, and the poor boy ceased to struggle. What I suffered, with the 
bodies of my seven children floating around me in the gloom, can never be told. Then the 
house struck hard and the roof broke. I punched a hole bigger and got out. The roof settled 
and I could do nothing more. How the night passed I know not, as I have no remembrance of 
anything after the house stopped until Saturday morning. Then I recovered my senses and saw 
I was close to the school-house at the lower end of Vine street. I was numb with cold and 
prayed for death, if it were God's will. Soon voices called to me to keep up courage and I 
would be taken off. Some man put a piece of bread on a stick and threw it towards me. It 
floated beside the wreckage I was on and I caught it. A mouthful satisfied me. At noon a 
boat took me to the shore and I was given some food. I did not know then whether Mr. 
Fenn was saved or lost, and I set out to see what could be heard of him. I knew all my chil- 
dren were dead and had floated down among the rubbish on the Point. On Sunday I heard of 
my husband's fate. I had hoped he got across Stony Creek and would return, but the dreadful 
news destroyed the last spark of comfort in my soul. I had drunk the cup of sorrow to the 
lowest dregs. 

" Kind friends gave me shelter and what consolation they could offer. But my heart is 
breaking. My husband, all my dear children, and my home are gone ! I came from Virginia to 
Johnstown and have no relatives in this section of the country, except some of my husband's 
family. My parents and brothers and sisters are dead, so that I am indeed alone in the world. 
I have looked at every body as it was brought to the morgues to see if it might be one of my 
treasures. Thus far I have recovered none of them, and I fear they may have been burned in the 
fire at the bridge. The thought is agonizing and I feel as if I should go wild when it seems that 
I cannot even look upon the faces of my precious dead. It would be such a comfort to know 
where they sleep and visit their graves, to water them with my tears and plant flowers over their 
heads. Yet I do not quite despair of finding some of them. They may be dug out of the ruins 
of the homes above the bridge, and I shall watch the bodies carried in to see if my husband and 
children are not among them. No wife and mother could have had a kinder, better family. We 



SLAUGHTER OF THE INNOCENTS. 



235 



were all the world to each other. There is a picture of my family in a group, taken last Decem- 
ber, one copy of which I gave to a lady in Conemaugh Borough for a Christmas present. But 
for that there would be none in existence, as the one that hung in our parlor was washed away 
with the house. The children's names and ages were: 

John Fulton, 12 years. 

May Fleming Miller, or "Daisy," 10 years. 

Genevieve, 9 years. 

George Washington, 8 years. 

Anna Richmond Virginia, 6 years. 

Bismarck Sullivan, 3 years. 

Queen Esther, 16 months old on the day of the flood. 
"John Fulton was named in honor of the manager of the Cambria "Iron Works, who took a 
great interest in him and made him his messenger boy when he grew old enough. The report 
that Mr. Fulton was drowned came, I suppose, through the drowning of my child. John was a 
good boy to me. The first money he ever earned he handed to me, saying: 'Mamma, you use 
some for yourself and let me put some in the Sunday-school box. ' Last year he joined the 
Presbyterian church, of which he was the youngest member. His father and I looked forward 
to the day when our manly lad would be able to share in the business. It is hard to realize that 
both are gone and that our plans are thwarted. What shall I do ? What shall I do ? 

" 'Daisy' was called May Fleming Miller from dear friends of ours. She was a diligent 
scholar and I think everybody liked her for her amiable ways. At home she always tried to 
take care of the smaller children. Now they are all gone ! George was born on the anniver- 
versary of Washington's birthday and received the name of the father of his country. Anna's 
name included my native city and state. The Germans were holding a celebration in Johnstown 
on the day my third son came into the world, so we decided to nama him Bismarck. The baby 
was called Queen Esther because the cantata of that name was produced on the evening of her 
birth. If God had only spared me one I could have been resigned. But all, all ! Father in 
Heaven, is not my cross heavier than I can bear ?" 

Sobs frequently" choked the utterances of the afflicted woman, who broke 
down at this stage and was led away by kind ladies. Week after week she 
explored the wreckage for the bodies of her loved ones. George was found 
at last and buried temporarily among the "unknown." A collar-button taken 
from a corpse was recognized in September by Mrs. Fenn as the one she had 
fastened in her husband's shirt the morning of the flood. The body had been 
numbered and buried on Prospect Hill four months before. It was exhumed, 
identified positively by the clothing and certain marks, and buried in Grand 
View Cemetery, whither George was also taken. Of the other six members 
of the family no sign has been discovered. The}' sleep in nameless graves, 
or lie beneath the mire unshrouded and uncoffined. 

Mrs. Fenn was cared for kindly at one of the houses erected by the Red 
Cross Society, and lay for weeks at the point of death. The fearful strain re- 
duced her to a shadow of her former self. Yet the burdened spirit did not 
find the rest of the grave. A baby was born, but it lived only a few hours. 
The minister baptized the little stranger Rachel Faith, in accordance with the 
wish of the suffering mother — a name strikingly appropriate. Had it lived, 
the lonehy heart would have enjoyed some solace. Even this ray of sunshine 



2\b 



THE- STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 



was denied, and the posthumous child of John Fenn hastened to meet in 
blissful realms the father it was not to see on earth. Poor Mrs. Fenn ! Their 
beauty, cleverness and kindly disposition made her children general favorites. 
Who would not extend a helping hand to soothe sorrow like hers ? 

The listeners wept as S. M. Jones, who was rescued, told how he lost his 
home and family. Two weeks before the flood he 
came to Johnstown from Cumberland, Md. , with his 
wife and only child, a bright boy of six summers. 
When the crash occurred the three managed to 
get on the roof of their house, which floated off. 
The building parted and Mrs. Jones sank to rise 
no more. The father clutched his boy firmly, but 
a furious shock tore the little fellow from his arms. 
As he disappeared in the surging torrent, 
the dear child raised his face a single 
instant and murmured: •' Good-bye, 
papa!" Imagine an incident like this 
~— in your own case. Is it surprising that 
the stricken husband and father should 
~"1= r 'V have a care-worn exprd n he will carry 
ii« . - £V^> • to the grave ? These are the things which 
1 streak the hair with sdver and hew deep 

wrinkles in the aching brow, wrapping life's pathway in gloom no beam of 
light can penetrate. 

For weeks a woman in homely garb was seen about the morgues and 
wherever men sought for bodies of the dead. Her face had a yearning, plead- 
ing look which softened the hardest heart. She had bunches of marsh rose- 
mary and bright-hued wild flowers, picked from the hills and meadows. People 
whispered she was not quite right in her mind and thought of Ophelia. She 
was always in a hurry to be away from you, as if in search of some one. Her 
face always wore the same troubled, pathetic, appealing expression, as if, de- 
spairing, she still waited for news that never came. Tall in stature, with the 
slightest of stoops, her skin was pale, and to see her eyes was to be haunted 
with a lingering sense of pain. When you spoke to her she smiled with a quick 
sense of gratitude for a moment of human companionship, but at once was 
gone. She had no time to spare from the quest that will have no end until 
the grave closes over her bleeding heart. One day she did not appear and it 
was learned that she had wandered down the river, to look for the two chil- 
dren whose loss had caused her reason to totter. That was the last seen of 
her in Johnstown. None knew her name or how she fared, further than that 
she was a widow, who took in washing to support her little family and lived in 




GOOD-BYE, PAPA 



SLAUGHTER OF THE INNOCENTS. 



237 



a back alley. What a volume the unwritten tragedies of human life would 
make ! 

Nothing that has been said by tongue or pen can picture adequately the 
awful agony caused by the loss of children in whom centered the ambitions 
and hopes of proud parents. Hearts grew sick in feeble attempts to show 
sympathy, and all that was flippant took flight from the presence of harrow- 
ing, unspeakable grief. Many survivors wrote letters regarding the deluge, 
but the pathos in one must melt the flintiest. It is from Mrs. Ida Quen, a 
poor widow, who resides at Scalp Level, near Johnstown, and whose children 
and their grandparents were swept to death : 

Scalp Level, June 12, iSSg. 
Dear Sir : It is with a sad heart that I write and say that Willie, my son, is dead. He 
was nine years and four months of age. Daisy, my daughter, is dead ; she was thirteen years 
and three months old. They were in Johnstown on the fatal Friday of the bursting of the dam. 
Their Grandpa and Grandma Quen were swept away also. I buried Daisy on Tuesday and 
Willie to-day. I have not found the bodies of their grandparents yet. I am a widow and 
have one little boy, George, left. Oh ! My weary tramp day after day finding my children ! 
The horror, the dread, and alone — no pen can tell. Oh, it is hard for me. But there are so 
many like me. The sorrow and grief are felt by all. I was poor, but I had my children. 
They are gone and my heart is sad. I remain yours, 

Willie's Mother 

Willie sold papers to assist his mother and was the manliest of little fel- 
lows. While words cannot assuage the sorrow of his bereaved mother, none 
can read her letter without moistened eyes and a feeling of regret for the sad 
fate of her loved and loving children. 

It was a touching spectacle when the corpse of a little girl was extricated 
and placed on a stretcher for transportation to the morgue. Clasped to her 
breast by her two waxen hands was a rag-doll — a cheap affair, of domestic 
manufacture. To the child of poverty the rag-baby was a favorite toy. The 
little mother held fast to her treasure, and met her end without separating from 
it. The two — child and doll — were not parted when the white coffin received 
them, and they moulder together in the plot assigned to the "unknown" in 
Grand View Cemetery. 

Zeta, Agnes and Thomas, the three youngest children of Mr. and Mrs. 
Robert Sagerson, were drowned, but their bodies were not washed away. 
Frank, the infant child of James and Kate Taylor, was also killed in the house. 
The four little ones were interred in one box in the old Catholic Cemetery. 

A baby's shoe, on a chair beside a table, was discovered in the room of a 
wrecked house near St. John's Church. Probably the mother had been dress- 
ing her darling at the moment when both were hurled to their doom. 

A little boy and girl, apparently about five and seven years of age, passed 
close to Mr. James McMillen'.s residence. They were standing on a float, the 
little man holding, as is supposed, his sister's hand, without a murmur, and 
both standing as straight as arrows. Neither was seen afterwards. 



238 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWX. 

A small boy was taken out of the wreck on Main street with a silver dollar 
in his right hand. He was likely on his way to market when swept into the 
swirling waters. 

" Here, sonny," said a gentleman to a half -naked boy, " is a pair of shoes 
for you." " I don't need them, sir," replied the lad, " I don't want anything. " 
"Maybe you are hungry?" "No, not very," and the little figure in patched 
trousers and tattered shirt crept off to a pile of coffins, sat down on one and 
groaned in abject misery. Father, mother, sisters, brothers and heme were 
swept away, but a kind uncle soon took the poor orphan to his own house in 
Harrisburg. 

The bodies of Mrs. Thomasberger and two of her children, Amelia and 
Charley, were found on Locust street, near Jackson, on June 20th. The body 
of Sarah Rees, aged ten years, was found on June 18th, and the bod}' of John, 
aged two, on the 20th. Both were children of J. W. Rees, of the Economy 
Clothing Store, and so the list lengthened. 

A woman whom thousands in Johnstown knew and respected was Mrs. Mc- 
Kinstry, an industrious seamstress, whose husband died years ago, leaving his 
widow with one daughter. For little Annie the fond mother sewed earl)' and 
late, rearing the child carefully. Annie was a pretty girl, just entering her 
teens when the terrible disaster overwhelmed the Conemaugh Valley. She 
had a great mass of silken hair, blue eyes and the complexion of the roses. 
Last spring when the Hager block, on Main street, was completed, Mrs. 
McKinstry secured rooms in the new building. There she and Annie lived 
comfortabry, unsuspicious of evil. The child went to school regularly, while 
the mother plied her needle with tireless patience. On the fatal day both 
were up-stairs in their own quarters. The resistless waters crushed out the 
front and one side of the building, burying the unfortunate inmates beneath 
piles of rubbish. Among them were the McKinstrys, whose bodies were found 
a day or two later. Only a short time before Annie had crossed the street to 
Burggraf's gallery to have her photograph taken. One of her playmates was 
Emma, daughter of Jacob Zimmerman, the lawyer. The pair were always 
together. Their tastes and studies were similar. Emma, with her married 
sister and brother-in-law, went down in the wreck of her father's house. 'Tis 
consoling to believe these loving companions are reunited where partings do 
riot vex and gentle fellowship is enduring as the ages of eternity. 

Everybody knew and loved sweet, smiling-faced Bessie, daughter of Dr. 
James Fronheiser and sister of the girl and boy who displayed such bravery. 
Her little brother was handed through a window of the club-house, appar- 
ently dead. The distracted father had him put to bed and spent hours reviv- 
ing the child, succeeding at last in fanning the vital spark into a flame. The 
baby was only nine weeks old the da)' of the flood and two weeks after fol- 
lowed its mother and sister to the grave. Dear little Bessie, seven years old, 



SLAUGHTER OF THE INNOCENTS. 



239 




JESSIE AND FRANCIS BOWMAN. ANNIE M KINSTRV AND EMMA ZIMMER 



BESSIE FRONHEISER. 



small of her age, with hair like burnished gold and a face of the sweetest 
purity, was lost. She wore two rings, one having the word "Pet" pressed 
into it, but a force of men spent weeks in a vain search for her re- 
mains. The blank her absence had made in the home once full of love and 
brightness ! 

" She was their darling girl, 
They looked on her as Heaven's most precious thing, 
For all unfinished was life's jewel'd ring 
Till set with this rare pearl-"^ 

Jessie and Francis, the bright children of Frank Bowman, were carried 
away in their home at Woodvale, going down to death with their parents and 
other relatives. The lists tell of families that lost two, three, five, seven, 
nine and even ten children, a bereavement so great that it is not easy to com- 
prehend its full effect. 

••They found a little girl in white just now," said one of the railroad 
operators at Switch Corner, near Sang Hollow. '• Good God !" said the chief 
operator, "she isn't dead, is she?" "Yes, they found her in a clump of wil- 
low bushes, kneeling on a board, just about the way we saw her when she 
went down the river. That was the saddest of all. She had on a white dress 
and looked like a little anffel. She went under that cursed shoot in the willow 



240 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

bushes at the bend like all the rest, but we did hope she would get through 
alive." " And so she was still kneeling," one said to his companion who had 
brought the unwelcome news. "Yes, and her lips parted in a smile as if she 
saw the gates ajar to admit her to paradise. ' ' The praying little girl was 
washed carefully and laid in a neat casket. She is now sleeping in Grand 
View, without a name to mark her place of repose. But the angels knew who 
she was and took her up to the golden streets. 

What sublime faith some of the children exhibited ! George J. Lea and 
family were on the roof of their house. The house swung around and floated 
for nearly half an hour before it struck the wreck above the stone bridge. A 
3-year-old girl, with golden hair and dimpled cheeks, prayed all the while that 
God would save them and said she knew He would. It seemed that the prayer 
was really answered and the house directed against the drift, enabling every 
one of the eight to get off. Professor Tyndall might find in the little ones, 
who believe so trustingly what they hear at Sunday-school or at their mother's 
knee, good subjects for his prayer test. But where could he find a minister 
with one-half as much confidence in its efficacy as this Johnstown babe mani- 
fested ? 

A family in Conemaugh Borough made a break for Green Hill at the first 
alarm. In the hurry the youngest child, two years old, was forgotten. The 
father ran back for his pocket-book, which contained a snug sum of money. 
As he entered the door a childish voice piped from the top of the stairs : 
" Papa, 00 won't go and not take oo's baby, will 00, papa ?" 

The father thought no more of his cash, but jumped up the stairway three 
steps at a time and bore away the little toddler. The water rose to his breast 
ere he reached high ground. What if the pretty home and the savings of 
years were gone ? Not one of the children was missing, and the strong arm of 
the glad father would earn a subsistence for them all. 

On a cot in the hospital on Prospect Hill lay a man severely injured, whose 
mental sufferings were so great as to overshadow his physical pain. His name 
was Vering, and he had lost his wife and three children. In an interview on 
Monday, he said : 

' ' I was at home with my wife and children when the alarm came. We hurried from the 
house, leaving everything behind us. As we reached the door a friend of mine was running by. 
He grasped the two smallest children, one under each arm, and hurried on ahead of us. I had 
my arm around my wife's waist, supporting her. Behind us we could hear the flood rushing 
upon us. In one hurried glance as I passed a corner I could see the flood crunching and crack- 
ling the houses in its fearful grasp. I then could see that there was no possibility of our escape, 
as we were too far away from the hill-sides. In a very few moments the water was upon us. 
In a flash I saw my three dear children swallowed up by it and disappear from sight, as my 
wife and I were thrown into the air by the vanguard of the rushing ruins. We found ourselves 
among a lot of drift, sweeping along with the speed of a race-horse. In a moment or two we 
were thrown with a crash against the sides of a large frame building, whose walls gave way be- 
fore it as easily as if they were made of pie-crust, and the timbers began to fall about us in all 
directions. 

» ' 



SLAUGHTER OF THE INNOCENTS. 24 1 

" Up to this time I had retained a firm hold upon my wife ; but, as I found myself pinned 
between two heavy timbers, the agony caused my senses to leave me momentarily. I recovered 
instantly, in time to see my wife's head just disappearing under the water. Like lightning I 
grasped her by the hair and, as best I could, pinioned as I was above the water by the timber, 
I raised her above it. The weight proved too much and she sank again. Again I pulled 
her to the surface and again she sank. This I did again and again with no avail. 
She drowned in my very grasp, and at last she dropped from my nerveless hands to leave 
my sight forever. As if I had not suffered enough, a few moments after I saw some 
objects whirling around in an eddy which circled around, until, reaching the current 
again, they floated past me. My God ! Would you believe me ? It was three of my children, 
dead ! Their dear little faces are before me now, distorted in a look of agony that, no matter 
what I do, haunts me. Oh, if I could only have released myself at that time I would have willingly 
died with them ! I was rescued some time after, and have been here ever since. I have since 
learned that my friend who so bravely endeavored to save two of the children was lost with 
them." 

Of a Woodvale mother and one child, who were lost in the flood, a pathetic 
incident was told by a young man who saw them in the water. He could 
save only one, as his life was in danger should he try to pilot them both to the 
shore. The child calmly said: "If you can't save us both, leave us here to 
die together," and they were carried away under the drift. Their bodies were 
never recovered. 

A woman with one child saw the terrific torrent coming and hastily gath- 
ered a bag of bonds and cash in hope of saving it. The flood came upon 
her, and the. alternative presented was to drop the money, amounting to three 
thousand dollars, or the child. The ruling passion was not fatally strong, and 
the money was lost that the child might be saved. 

With pallid face and hair clinging wet and damp to her cheek, a mother 
was seen grasping a floating timber, while on her other arm she held her babe, 
already drowned. The woman sank, and was thus spared the grief of mourn- 
ing for her infant. 

Three women were looking in the ruins on the Point for some trace of 
their former homes. A workman dug up a. hobby-horse, broken and mud- 
coated. When one of them spied the toy it brought back a wealth of 
memory. For the first time since the disaster she gave way to a flood of tears, 
welcome as sunshine from heaven, for they allowed the pent-up grief to flow 
freely. She sobbed out : 

"Where did you get that ? It was my boy's' No, I don't want it. Keep it, and find for 
me, if you can, my album. In it are the faces of my dead husband and children." 

The rough men who had worked days in the valley of death turned away 
from the scene to hide their emotion. There was not a dry eye in the crowd. 
One touch of nature, and the thought of little ones at home, welded them in 
heart and sympathy to this sorrowful mother. 

On Tuesday forenoon a gray-bearded man stood above the bridge, amid 
the blackened logs and ashes through which the polluted water of the Cone- 



2 , 2 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

maugh made its way, wringing his hands and moaning. He was W. J. Gil- 
more, who had lived at the corner of Conemaugh and Main streets. The house 
was flooded by the first rush of water, arid the family, consisting of Mr. Gil- 
more, his brother Abraham, his wife, four children and mother-in-law, ran to 
the second story. They were joined by Frances, the little daughter of Samuel 
Fields, and Grandmother Maria Prosser. The side of the house was torn out 
and the water poured into the second floor. Mr. Gilmore scrambled upon some 
floating debris, and his brother attempted to pass the women and children out 
to him. Before he could do so, the building sank, and Mr. Gilmore' s wife and 
family were swept from his side. His brother disappeared for a moment under 
the water, but came to the surface and was hauled upon the roof. Both broth- 
ers reached the shore. Mrs. Gilmore' s body was found, bloated by the water. 
Two of the children were burned to cinders, their trunks alone retaining 
something of their original shape. It was recognizing one of them that caused 
the father's outburst of grief. 

Writing from New Florence on Saturday morning, a young bride nar- 
rated some interesting circumstances. One paragraph of her letter said : 

' ' Oh, the horrors of to-day ! I have had only one pleasant Sunday here, and that was the 
one after we were married. I have had a very busy day, as I have been through our clothes, 
and routing out everything possible for the sufferers and the dead. The cry to-day for linen 
was something awful. I have given away all my underclothes, excepting my very best 
things — and all my old ones I made into face-cloths for the dead. To-day they took five little 
children out of the water, who had been playing 'Ring around a rosy.' Their hands were 
clasped in a clasp which even death did not loosen, and their faces were still smiling." 

A girl of eight summers, whose life was saved b)' a neighbor who took her 
from the roof of her father's house, wrote about the flood to a j'oung acquaint- 
ance in Harrisburg. The words were "printed," the child not having yet 
mastered the intricacies of chirography. There could not be anything more 
artless and touching than this passage from the tear-stained epistle : 

"We haven't no home, no baby, no brother any more. My papa tried to save the baby, 
but he had to let go. Mamma has no shoes, and I was so hungry the day after the flood. I 
can't tell you how much we all cried when we found baby was lost. He was the sweetest, cun- 
ningest little thing ! Our house is all gone, and we don't have no clothes to change with on 
Sunday." 

A disconsolate father on Adams street, whose youngest child was not in 
•the house when the water rose six feet above the floor, started out on Satur- 
day morning to seek the body of his boy. The rest of the family had run up- 
stairs and escaped. Where to look first he knew not. On Jackson street a 
voice saluted him : 

" Hello ! Papa, are you alive ? I was scared most to death, thinkin' you was dead !" 
It was his six-year-old son who spoke from an upper window. The house 
was surrounded by water and the urchin could not get home. The delighted 
parent did not let the grass grow under his feet in getting to the child and 



SLAUGHTER OF THE INNOCENTS. 243 

bearing him safely to the weeping mother who mourned for the Benjamin of 
her flock. 

Stephen Johns, a foreman at the Johnson Steel Rail Works, Woodvale, 
could not endure the agony of remaining where he had lost his family. He 
went east and at Altoona was met by an acquaintance, to whom he said : 

" I lost my family and then I decided to leave Johnstown. I was through the war. I 
was at Fair Oaks, Chancellorsville, in the Wilderness, and many other battles, but never in 
my life was I in such a hot place as on Friday night. I don't know how I escaped, but here 
am I alone, wife and children gone ! I was at the office of the company on Friday. We had 
been receiving telephonic messages all morning that the dam was unsafe. No one heeded them. 
The book-keeper said there was not enough water up there to flood the first floor of the office. 
I thought he knew, so I didn't send my family to the hills. I don't know what time it was in 
the afternoon that I saw the flood coming down the valley. I was standing at the gate. Look- 
ing up the valley I saw a great white cloud moving down upon us. I made a dash for home to 
try to get my wife and children to the hills. I saw them at the windows as I ran up to the house. 
That is the last time I ever saw their faces. No sooner had I got into the house than the flood 
struck the building. I was forced into the attic. It was a brick house with a slate roof. I had 
intended to keep very cool, but I suppose I forgot all about that. It seemed a long time, but I 
suppose it was not more than a second before the house' gave way and went tumbling down the 
stream. It turned over and over as it was washed along. I was under the water as often as I 
was above it. I could hear my wife and children praying, although I could not see them. I 
did not pray. They were taken and I was left. My house finally landed up against the stone 
railway bridge. I was then pinned down to the floor by a heavy rafter. Somehow I was lifted 
from the floor and thrown almost out upon the bridge. Then some people got hold of me and 
pulled me out and took me over to a brickyard. No one can understand it unless he or she 
passed through it. I searched for my wife and children all of Saturday, Sunday and Monday, 
but could find no trace -of them. I think they must have been among those who perished in the 
fire at the bridge. I would have stayed and worked had it not been the place was so near my 
old home that I could not stand it. I thought I would be better off away from there, where I 
could not see anything to recall that horrible sight." 

A large number of children in Cambria Borough fell victims. Mrs. Kee- 
lan lived on Front street, near Branch. In her house were herself, Mrs. Will 
Gaffney and two children, John Hannihan, wife and three children, Mrs. Grant 
and two children, Mrs. Keelan's child, Frank Wier and Samuel Holtzman. 
All perished except Samuel Holtzman and Mrs. Keelan's little daughter. The 
bodies were recovered. The wife of Burgess O'Neill and his two children 
were lost ; also the wife and two children of Chief-of-Police Fitzpatrick, and 
two children of Mail-Carrier Bridges. All the family of Charles Boyle, corner 
of Front and Broad streets went, down but Mrs. Boyle and one son, Hugh, 
who was at school. The family of Neal McAneeny, on Broad street, lost eight 
members — father, mother and six children. Mr. McAneeny was deputy under 
Sheriff Ryan. Mrs. Ann Cush and four children, Mrs. Thomas Hays and 
seven children and whole families of Poles were carried away. 

In the morgues bodies of children whom none could recognize were very 
plentiful for days after the flood. Descriptions like these would be posted : 
"Girl, about 6 months old, dark hair, white dress, brown bib." 



244 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

" Girl, 10 years old, light hair banged and cut short, calico dress, black stockings, coarse 
underclothing." 

"Girl, 4 years old, light hair, red alpaca dress, blue barred gingham apron, white buttons, 
spring-heel buttoned shoes, pleated underskirt." 

"Boy, 7 years old, blue suit, barred flannel shirt, black and white barred flannel waist 
with round pearl buttons, spring-heel shoes," 

" Child, 6 3'ears, no means of identification." 

"Girl, 6 years, 50 pounds, 4 feet 6 inches, button shoes, spring-heels, red flannel skirt, 
light calico dress, small gold ring. 

" Girl, 18 months old, red flannel skirt, red and white barred calico dress." 

" Boy, 5 years old, curly brown hair, black eyes, check waist and shirt." 

" Foot of a child burned at the bridge, slightly charred." 

A little procession was wending up Prospect Hill on Monday afternoon. 
Behind the father, an honest German, employed at the Cambria works twelve 
years, trooped eight children, from a girl of fourteen to a babe in the arms of 
the mother, who brought up the rear. The woman and children were hatless, 
and had on only the calico garments worn at the moment of flight. Forlorn 
and weary, they implored succor. The mother spoke for the part)' ; 

' ' We lost one only, thank God ! Our second daughter is gone. We had a comfortable 
house which we owned. It was paid for by our savings. Now all is gone." 

Then the unhappy woman sat down on the wet ground and sobbed hys- 
terically. The children crowded around their mother and shortly the fatigu- 
ing journey to the burial-place of the dead child was resumed. 

A man came to the site of the Gautier wire mills, on Monday, who looked 
as if he had been weeping. He hesitated, and said : 

' ' I was a Gautier employe. ' I am not staying in this town any longer than I can help, I 
guess. I've lost two children and they will be buried to-day." 

In the confusion, and the strain of excitement it was natural that every 
one who could not readily be found was reported dead. Amid the throng of 
mourners an occasional soul was made happy by finding that some loved one 
had escaped death. At the entrance to a morgue two workmen met, clasped 
hands, and said : 

" And you got out alive ? I thought you had gone !" 

"Indeed I did, but Lord bless my soul, I thought the wife and babies were dead! But 
we're all safe and I'm happy !' 

The fate of the children stirred the hearts of kind people to help those 
who survived. In a box of dainty things sent to Johnstown for a baby was 
found this touching note : 

' ' These little articles have been put in order with the hope that they may bring comfort to 
the child of some sufferer of the Conemaugh Valley, and are sent with the prayer of a mother 
who has lost her own." 

Another note accompanying a package had the following : 

" The contents are not beyond criticism, but if strings and buttons or old fans will amuse 
some child a few minutes, who has lost all, I am content." 



SLAUGHTER OF THE INNOCENTS. 245 

Bless the dear hearts of the children ! All over the country the}' wanted 
to do something to aid the suffering boys and girls at Johnstown. Nestling in 
a pile of good clothes that came from New Jersey was a doll-baby all dressed 
in blue. To it was pinned a piece of paper, on which was written : 

"If the little girl who gets this dolly will write to little Annie H. Archer, Elizabeth, N. J , 
she will send another and larger dolly." 

Every child in the United States had a desire to aid in the work. A letter 
from Vice-President Morton to General Hastings mentions an instance of this 
creditable trait : 

' 'My Dear General : On my return to my country home I find that my little girls, fr'-m 8 to 
14 years of age, have been hard at work since the terrible disaster at Johnstown in making ar- 
ticles of clothing for the poor, homeless children who have survived the recent floods in your 
state. I am forwarding to-day by the American Express Company, free of charge, 127 articles 
of wearing apparel, as per list enclosed, made by their own hands or purchased with their own 
money, with some of their dresses. My children will feel greatly obliged if you will cause 
the clothing to be distributed among the little sufferers by the recent calamity, for whom they 
feel the deepest sympathy. I am, dear General, very faithfully yours, 

Levi P. Morton." 

Meeting me in Harrisburg, ten days after the flood, a little girl of twelve 
summers, her whole soul gleaming in her earnest blue eyes, said : 

"Imso glad you're home safe from Johnstown! Won't you please take this half-dollar 
when you go back, and give it to some girl about my age to help her buy shoes or a dress i I 
was saving the money for the Fourth of July, but I know it will do me more good to give it to a 
poor child." 

Could the pretty creature have seen the sparkling face of the destitute 
girl to whom her money was handed she would have felt a glow of delight to 
which selfishness is a stranger. 

Curious things came to light where the rubbish was cleared away. Be- 
hind a house that was resting on one corner was found a wicker-work baby- 
carriage full of mud, not injured or scratched in the least, but looking as if it 
had beeri rolled there and left. Very close to it was a piece of railroad iron 
that must have been carried half a mile, bent as if it were common wire. 
"Somebody's darling" had crooned and crowed with delight in that carriage, 
but where was the baby now? No claimant for the vehicle appeared. 

At last the juvenile buoyancy asserted itself. Children played hide-and- 
seek in the skeletons of houses, and laughed at the warnings of the workmen 
to keep away or they would be hurt. The childish spirit of fun could not be 
quenched by the remembrance of what had passed, although each of these 
little ones might have told an awful story of peril. But parental hearts could 
not soon forget their slaughtered innocents. The schools opened on Septem- 
ber 30th, with numbers fearfully diminished. The ringing of the bells that 
morning sounded like a knell to mothers and fathers from whose sheltering 
arms the lambs of the fold had gone forever. The pleasing bustle of prepara- 



246 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

tion for school was no more witnessed in homes strangely quiet since the 
flood. Requests for books and slates and pencils came not, for the voices of 
the children were hushed in death. No more friendly rivalry in studying 
lessons, because the young pupils had been transferred to "that school where 
they no longer need our poor protection. ' ' 

" There is no'flock, however watched and tended, 
But one dead Iamb is there ; 
There is no fireside, howsoe'erdefended, 
But has one vacant chair! 

The air is full of farewells to the dying 

And mournings for the dead ; 
The heart of Rachel for her children crying, 

Will not be comforted ! 

Let us be patient ! These severe afflictions 

Not from the ground arise, 
But oftentimes celestial benedictions 

Assume this dark disguise. 

Not as a child shall we again behold her ; 

For when with raptures wild 
In our embraces we again enfold her, 

She will not be a child ; 

But a fair maiden in her Father's mansion, 

Clothed with celestial grace ; 
And beautiful with all the soul's expansion 

Shall we behold her face." 

Yet tears must flow for the hundreds of little ones who died in the dark 
waters at Johnstown. 




Distributing Relief at Masonic Headquarters and the Pennsylvania 

Railroad Station. 



XVIII. 



HELP FOR THE LIVING. 



Many People Hungry the Day After the Flood — Children Crying for Bread — The Good 
Farmer Who Came with a Supply of Milk — Extortionate Dealers Brought to their 
Senses in Short Metre — Somerset Sends the First Car of Provisions on Sunday 
Morning — Wagons-loads of Food from Altoona — Senator Quay's Welcome Draft — 
How Famine was Averted — A Troublesome Problem Solved Temporarily by Prompt 
Measures — Hospitals Opened for the Sick and Injured. 



" The minister said last night, says he, 
' Don't be afraid of givin' ; 
If your life ain't nothin' to other folks, 

Why, what's the use of livin'? ' " — Anonymous. 



VERY railroad was blocked, every avenue closed 
on the morning after the flood. Bridges were 
gone, streams could not be crossed, thousands 
of the dead were to be picked up and thous- 
ands of the living to be fed. Children cried 
for the bread their parents had not to bestow. 
Many a man and woman went hungry that 
doleful Saturday. The stocks of provisions in 
the small shops and the dwellings in Cone- 
maugh Borough served as a drop in the 
bucket and were exhausted in an hour. Farm- 
ers' wagons could enter Johnstown from Green 
Hill only, and the number at best would be 
exceeding^ limited. Families that lived above 
the reach of the waters doled out their meagre 
supply of food to keep the smallest children 
from absolute starvation. If the speedy dis- 
posal of bloated corpses was an urgent duty, 
the feeding of famishing multitudes was a demand that would not brook long 




THK FIRST 
THE 



MILK BROUGHT TO JOHNSTOWN 
DAY AFTER THE FLOOD. 



250 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

delay. The grocery and provision stores had passed away. People went 
without breakfast, there was no prospect of dinner and nobody ventured to 
guess how or when supper would come. Some of the less buoyant talked of 
historic famines and wondered how soon death would end their pilgrimage. 
The experiences of -the Israelites in the wilderness were recalled, with a sigh 
that the chances of a shower of manna afforded no hope of relief from that 
quarter. Intense sorrow could not overcome the cravings of nature and main- 
tain a perpetual fast. It might be that Simon Stylites and other mediaeval 
saints had done a month without food or drink, but the average sinner of 
modern times was not built that way and had not the least inclination to vie 
with Dr. Tanner. No person in good health, blessed with a keen appetite 
and sound digestive organs, who spent Saturday, June ist, 1889, in Johns- 
town, will fail to remember the painful sense of goneness that would have 
welcomed the hardest crust and hailed the toughest sandwich as a feast from 
the larder of the Olympian deities ! 

A couple of petty dealers, who escaped the loss which befell so many 
better men, in the morning asked three or four times the regular price for flour 
and groceries. They were quickly brought to a realization of their mean ex- 
tortion by a committee of citizens, who mildly hinted that such conduct 
might end in a hanging-bee, with the dealers gracing the noose in the rope. 
This salutary treatment worked to perfection, putting an effective quietus upon 
base attempts to profit by the misfortunes of the sufferers. 

Early in the afternoon a farmer drove in from his place, three miles back 
of Green Hill. He had heard of the disaster from fugitives leaving the stricken 
town. All his cows were milked and the product put in cans, potatoes and 
some sacks of meal completing a wagon-load. With this timely supply the 
farmer set out for Johnstown, and anchored at the corner of Adams and Main 
streets. Not a penny would he take for the milk, which was ladled into 
pitchers and glasses and cups as fast as they could be presented. The refresh- 
ing draught satisfied dozens of hungry children. Benedictions were showered 
upon the donor, whose cargo of potatoes and meal found eager purchasers at 
the moderate figures he charged. To families without money he measured out 
the provisions readily, merely asking the applicants about their losses and 
where they had lived. This was the first benefactor, and it must have started 
a thousand joys dancing in the old man's heart and brain to see the great 
good his liberality had accomplished. Gratitude is not bad pay, even though 
it may not serve as collateral for a loan or be accepted at a bank as gilt-edged 
security. 

To Somerset belongs the honor of sending the first car of provisions, al- 
though other places claim to have been ahead. The first news of the ca- 
lamity was received in that town at 5:55 on Friday evening, in the shape of 
a dispatch to a newspaper correspondent, sent from Pittsburgh. It stated 



HELP FOR THE LIVING. 



251 



that reports had reached that city of a burst in a reservoir at Johnstown, with 
some loss of life. Thirty minutes later a message repeated the rumor, ad- 
ding that three hundred persons were reported drowned. This was all until 
Saturday morning, when the telegraph stunned the citizens of the county 
seat with alarming details of the visitation. Prominent gentlemen went to 
work at once to provide food and clothing for the destitute. Wagons hauled 
the supplies to the depot, where a car was loaded and started for Johnstown. 
A break in the track at Hoover's caused a stoppage, but at daylight on Sun- 
day morning the car arrived and its contents were distributed. How good 
the food tasted to the half-starved people who had eaten nothing since din- 
ner on Friday ! 

Pittsburgh responded nobly and generously to the cry for aid. The news 
of the disaster caused the utmost excitement on Saturday morning. Superin- 
tendent Pitcairn, of the Pennsylvania railroad, when the first report was re- 
ceived on Friday evening, jumped upon an engine and gave the engineer or- 
ders to proceed at the fastest gait. The locomotive sped over the tracks at a 
rate that almost threatened its derailment and the party arrived at Sang Hol- 
low, the nearest point to Johnstown at that time accessible. Mr. Pitcairn at 
once saw that the flood was far greater than anybody had imagined and that 
help would be needed quickly. The wires of the Western Union Company 
were all down, but over the private wires of the railroad he sent messages to 
the editors of the Pittsburgh newspapers to do all in their power to have a 
meeting of the citizens to take action towards the relief of the sufferers. Mayor 
McCallin, of Pittsburgh, entered heartily into the scheme, and the next morn- 
ing held a consultation with Mayojr Pearson, of Allegheny. They decided that 
a meeting of the citizens should be called. Before ten o'clock both cities were 
placarded with notices signed by the two mayors, calling upon the citizens to 
attend at Old City Hall, in Pittsburgh, that afternoon, to take such steps as 
might be thought necessary. At one o'clock Old City Hall was crowded to its 
doors with the representative business men and citizens of both cities. There 
was not much speech-making, but money poured in like a torrent. The chair- 
man's table was flooded with cash and checks. Treasurer Thompson stood 
dismayed ; he could take no more. Mayor McCallin went to his assistance, 
and H. I. Gourley was mustered into service. The three men stood there for 
over half an hour, and -the excited crowds kept them working like beavers. 
In just fifty minutes $48,116.70 were contributed ! 

A Relief Committee was appointed and pastors of churches announced 
that collections would be taken up on the morrow to help suffering Johnstown. 
Business of all kinds was abandoned. Merchants rushed hither and thither in 
their efforts to outdo their neighbors in the work of forming the nucleus of a 
life-saving and distress-succoring army. Men accustomed to sit at desks in 
counting-rooms were rushing through the streets, their hats on the backs of 



252 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

their heads, collars wilted and faces flushed. Now they stood for a second in 
front of a newspaper office, glancing hurriedly over the bulletins ; the next 
minute they were bounding up the stairs leading to the Chamber of Commerce, 
three steps at a time. Breathlessly they would rush up to Chairman Mc- 
Creery and exclaim : 

" Put me down for two car-loads of provisions and clothing !" 

" Here is my check for a thousand dollars !" 

" I will send twenty cases of boots and shoes !" 

" Here's an order for fifty barrels of flour !" 

" I want to contribute five hundred dollars' worth of groceries !" 

The Relief Committee selected a sub-committee to go to Johnstown with 
supplies and funds and attend to their distribution. The Pennsylvania Rail- 
road Company, with the ready generosity which invariably distinguishes its 
management in times of extreme urgency, placed trains at the disposal of the 
committee for the free transportation of men and provisions. The relief 
corps left Pittsburgh at four o'clock on Saturday afternoon in coaches attached 
to the freight cars loaded with supplies. Eighty-two members of the Relief 
Committee, two companies of State troops, twelve newspaper reporters and 
thirty police officers were on board. At 8:30 the train reached Sang Hollow, 
four miles below its destination. There the unwelcome news was learned that 
further progress was impossible until Sunday, owing to washouts and land- 
slides. James B. Scott, who had been elected commander, immediately 
ordered out Company B to guard the train and unload supplies, and Company 
A to carry the supplies to Johnstown. One of the participants depicted, the 
ensuing scenes in lively colors : 

' ' The lonely station of Sang Hollow was soon the scene of activity. The men carried the 
provisions on their backs over landslides and the trackless road-beds to points where hand-cars 
could be found and put into service. In many places a temporary track was laid, over which the 
hand-cars passed. All night long a procassion of lights was moving to and fro from Sang Hol- 
low to the stone bridge. The commissary department was kept running all night under rather 
difficult circumstances. While caring for the wants of the sufferers the men had failed to look 
out for their own needs. A few knives and forks had been purchased on the way, after organ- 
ization, but only enough to prepare sandwiches. Necessity being the mother of invention, 
several pairs of new half-hose and a hatchet were utilized to pulverize the unground coffee. 

"The hard-working body of men soon acquired the ravenous appetites of hyenas, and 
enjoyed the rude repast of crackers, cheese, dry bread and black coffee with a relish unknown 
in Delmonico's. Thus, by hard, unremitting work, two car-loads of provisions were landed at 
the stone bridge before daylight, and part of them passed over the raging Conemaugh by the 
use of ropes. Through the efforts of competent railroad officials, the track was laid and the 
first train enabled to reach the bridge on Sunday morning at eight o'clock. As the train moved 
slowly and cautiously along the new-made track, the boys gave bread, cheese, crackers, etc., to 
the famished, poorly-clad crowds that lined the tracks at Sheridan, Morrellville, and Cambria 
City, and received the benedictions of many sufferers whom they saved from longer enduring 
the pangs of hunger. 

" Imirediately after arrival part of the train was unloaded at the stone bridge for Johns- 
town, and the rest of it in the upper and lower parts of Cambria City. The long-looked-for re- 



HELP FOR THE LIVING. 253 

lief had come at last. The anxious people crowded around the cars begging for something to 
carry to their homeless families. It was only after forming a line from the train to the tempo- 
rary storehouses that the supplies could be unloaded and taken to a place where a proper dis- 
tribution could be made. 

• ' When the train had been relieved of its load every man who accompanied it was assigned 
to duty. Some acted in connection with local committees in distributing food and clothing to 
the needy. Others worked in the debris and mud in Johnstown, Kernville, and Cambria City, 
helping the sorrow-stricken sufferers to find their dead. Within a few hours after the arrival 
of the train the yellow ribbon (which was the badge adopted by the relief corps) was seen in 
all parts of the devastated valley. Every man had come to work and help the afflicted, and 
some of the boys did not, during their stay at Johnstown, return to the train that brought them. 
This was no place or time for rest or comfort, and it may truthfully be said that for forty-eight 
hours after arrival many of the relief corps suffered as much from hunger and loss of sleep as 
any of the residents of the valley. 

"The men engaged in passing supplies over the Conemaugh by means of ropes soon found 
this tedious method unsatisfactory and inadequate to the demand. To remedy this the ingenuity 
of Alex. M. Gow, one of the relief corps, was called into action. With the assistance of J A 
Reed and W. P. Bennett, in a few hours he had made a bridge of short boards held together by 
knotted ropes, and swung it across the chasm. This made communication and the furnishing 
of relief more easy. The bridge was kept in constant use until the railroad bridge was re- 
paired. 

"While the train was lying at Sang Hollow a member of the advance guard of the Ameri- 
cus Club brought the information that boats were necessary to do effective and immediate work. 
Word was immediately wired to members at home, and the boys were enabled to have seven 
yawls on the Conemaugh river and Stony Creek by Sunday morning. These boats were used 
in carrying passengers over the two streams when a pass was presented from the proper au- 
thorities. The great work accomplished by the boats of the Americus Club, under command 
of Captain Clark, may be partially estimated from what was done on Snnday and Monday 
The first day they carried three thousand passengers and the second seven thousand, besides 
transporting provisions and dead bodies." 

All honor to the citizens of Pittsburgh for the splendid service they ren- 
dered at the very outset, not waiting for an example to teach them how to 
raise the fallen and assist the helpless. Their good offices did not wear out 
with the first manifestation, but continued to the end cheerful, strong, willing 
and beneficent. 

Altoona was up to the mark with the practical sympathy which does not 
waste itself in fine talk. The reports on Saturday morning, through a mistake of 
the telegraph operator at Ebensburg, made the catastrophe so small that little 
heed was given it. By noon correct statements began to circulate and the 
people of the Mountain City bestirred themselves. The railroad was de- 
stroyed from South Fork, but cars could be sent to Ebensburg, by way of 
Cresson. Donations of food and clothing poured in and were shipped in the 
evening. At Ebensburg teams were hired, and the greater part of the night 
was spent in the unpleasant journey. The road was execrable and rain fell stead- 
ily, but nothing could daunt the brave-hearted Altoonans. On Sunday morning 
their loads drew up at the Pennsylvania Railroad station, across Conemaugh 
creek from Johnstown. A rope bridge had been erected, affording communi- 



254 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

cation with Johnstown proper by a process almost as dizzy as the Moslem 
ingress to Allah's domain. Over this rickety structure the goods were carried, 
a committee looking after their disposal. 

Sunday was one of the greatest days in Altoona's history. A construc- 
tion train from South Fork had on board several passengers from Johnstown. 
Five thousand excited people were at the depot, frantic for authentic news. 
Six hundred of them were belated passengers, who could go no further and 
were quartered at the principal hotels. The local dailies had issued Sunday 
editions, containing what reports could be gleaned in the absence of direct 
telegraphic connection. These details only increased the desire for fuller in- 
formation. Such eagerness to learn the exact facts ! Men fairly tumbled 
over each other in their efforts to hear what any of the travelers from 
the wasted region could say. Public meetings were called for the afternoon 
and the enthusiasm grew apace. Pastors and their flocks vied in earnest 
work. Cash and contributions poured in. The firemen sent out a huge 
wagon which returned in thirty minutes piled six feet above the box with sup- 
plies. Again and again it went out, to come back speedily with a great cargo. 
Women stood in their doors waiting to hand out garments, bedding and food 
when a wagon should come their wa)'. The spectacle was inspiring, ennob- 
ling, glorious ! Sturdy fellows volunteered to go to Johnstown and help for 
three, six, ten days, free of charge. Cars were loaded and started to Ebens- 
burg, where teams were engaged to repeat the trip of the previous night. 
Altoona has many things to be proud of, but the grand response to the cry of 
stricken Johnstown is the brightest page in her annals. 

As soon as the water began to subside on Friday evening, about twenty- 
five men from Brownstown repaired to the stone bridge to assist in rescuing 
people. For days 1,500 people were entertained by Brownstown's fifty-three 
families, in houses, stables, school houses and other shelters. 

Ebensburg, usually quiet and sedate as a mummy, caught the generous in- 
fection and forwarded loads of supplies on Saturday night and Sunday. 
Farmers came with their horses and wagons to haul the offerings so cheerfully 
given. Gallitzin and Loretto did not sulk in their tents, but raised a hand- 
some consignment of clothing and edibles. Ever}' hamlet and cross-road 
within reach of Johnstown was heard from by Sunday evening. This com- 
mendable promptness averted a famine, showed the good will of their neigh- 
bors toward the sufferers and was a forecast of what might be expected when 
the great world beyond stretched forth its helping hand. The first droppings 
gave promise of a plenteous shower, which should refresh alike those who be- 
stowed and those who received it. 

Unselfish acts and charitable deeds, 
Prompt to relieve the patient sufl'rer's needs. 
Are more than empty words and musty creeds, 
Enrich the soul and clear away the weeds. 



JIKI.P FOR THE LIVING. 



-=55 



Senator M. S. Quay's contribution — a draft mailed from his home at 
Beaver Falls on Saturday — was the first money actually received. Braddock 
furnished a car of provisions on Sunday and a large lot arrived on Monday 
morning from Cumberland, Md. The frank, open-handed Marylanders also 
sent fifty men to help take out dead bodies and clear off rubbish. They re- 
mained a week and did excellent work. 

Some of the earliest offerings created a good deal of amusement. In 
their eager haste to help in some way many persons did not stop to consider 
what would be useful. On Sunday afternoon a bundle, nicely tied up, was 
opened. It contained a ball of carpet-rags, a paper of tacks, two bags of salt, 
a baby's shoe and two darned socks of different colors. A box of home-made 
salve, upon which was written "warm before using," was tossed out of a car. 
A package of worn-out school-books caused an outburst of profanity. A new 
Bible with several passages marked was laid aside because no one seemed 
anxious to possess it. Among other things were tidies, fancy needle-work and 
bits of bric-a-brac, which were piled up in heaps for cremation, by the dis- 
gusted men who had to unpack them. In a parcel on Monday was a blue 
Andrew-Jackson dress coat with bright brass buttons. It must have been at 
least sixty or seventy years old. It was given to a little man eighty-nine years 
of age, who lived at Grubtown, and was rescued by his grandson after being in 
the water half an hour. He wore it away with as much satisfaction as a small 
boy displays over a pair of new boots with red tops. 

One Pittsburgh lady displayed admirable judgment in her gifts. She 
picked out from the wardrobes of herself and her husband all the suits that 
could be spared. Into the pockets of each suit for men she put a jack-knife, 
a hair-brush and a comb. Into the women's gowns she put a pair of stock- 
ings, a comb and brush, a tooth-brush and a cake of soap. She sent 
several gowns that she had been saving to wear in the summer herself, re- 
marking heroically : 

"I did not hesitate many minutes; I decided to let the sufferers have them, and let my 
husband get me some new ones." 

At daylight on Sunday morning a hospital was established in the old 
Hausman's Hall, Bedford street, to which and the Cambria Hospital on Pros- 
pect the sick and wounded were taken. The home physicians rallied to the 
relief of the sufferers, but were greatly hampered by the want of medicines and 
surgical instruments, the flood having left them destitute in these respects. 
They were soon reinforced by Dr. Forster and Dr. McCandless, of Pittsburgh ; 
Dr. Mountain of Confluence ; Dr. White, of Connellsville ; Dr. Jones, of 
Ebensburg, and Dr. Buck, of Altoona, who thoughtfully brought ample medi- 
cal stores. Cots, mattresses, blankets and pillows had been telegraphed for on 
Saturday to Pittsburgh. They arrived at n o'clock on Sunday forenoon. The 
first patient, Mr. Hellrigel, of Woodvale, was found early on Sunday morning, 



256 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

supposed dead. While being conveyed to the Fourth-ward morgue, he mani- 
fested signs of life. Dr. J. C. Sheridan had him taken to Hausman's Hall. 
Hypodermics of brandy stimulated him into consciousness, so that he recog- 
nized his father. But he was too far gone to recover, and on Monday after- 
noon he expired. His admission was quickfy followed by others, and by noon 
all the cots and benches were occupied. Within a week 175 patients had been 
treated. Fifty of them were sent to Mercy Hospital, Pittsburgh, and others 
to their homes when convalescent. 

Besides those admitted to the hospital, 350 persons outside received surgi- 
cal attention for minor injuries, 1,200 sick were visited regularly and 3,000 pre- 
scriptions filled at the drug store established in the building. From this hospi- 
tal all supplies for physicians about town were furnished, and two branch hospi- 
tals in tents — one near the company store and the other near the stone 
bridge. Soon after its opening the hospital was turned over to physicians 
from abroad, Dr. Foster first having control. Dr. Oldshue relieved Dr. Foster, 
and was succeeded by Dr.- T. McCann, with Dr. W. B. Lowman as general 
director. Dr. Joseph Dixon was next in charge, Dr. Lowman continuing as 
director, and he remained in control until the State administration was estab- 
lished, when Dr. J. C. Sheridan was given charge, Dr. Lowman transferring his 
entire attention to the Cambria Hospital. All these physicians except Drs. 
Sheridan and Lowman belonged to Pittsburgh. The)' were ably assisted by 
numerous doctors from Altoona, Philadelphia and other places, and bands of 
ladies whose careful nursing saved many a life that had been trembling in the 
balance. 

The snug little Cambria Hospital, on Prospect Hill, received its first 
patient at five o'clock on Friday evening. This was J. H. Stonebraker, of 
Millville, who had two ribs broken. Two more were brought in the same 
evening and on Saturday the hospital was crowded. Mrs. Willower 'and 
Maggie Hughes died. The highest number in the hospital at one time was 21. 
About 950 out-door patients were treated the first ten days of June by the 
physicians attached to the hospital — Drs. Buck, Findley, Bruner, Smith, Ross, 
Spanogle, Arney and Sellers, of Altoona, and Dr. Jones, of Ebensburg. Drs. 
Hewson, Sweet and Shober, of Philadelphia, relieved the Altoona physicians, 
remaining until June 16th, when Dr. Lowman, of Johnstown, took charge. 
Temporary hospitals existed for a few days at East Conemaugh and Morrell- 
ville. These physicians and the four hospitals were most helpful to the com- 
munity. The doctors relieved a vast amount of suffering, averted epidemics, 
seemed never to weary in their self-imposed labors and earned the everlasting 
gratitude of the people of the Conemaugh Valley. 

Governor Foraker, of Ohio, the moment he had definite news of the cal- 
amity, ordered five hundred tents and provisions to be shipped from Columbus. 
These came on Monday. The tents were placed at convenient points to 



HELP FOR THE LIVING. 257 

shelter homeless sufferers, whose praises of the Buckeye executive, unlike 
angel's visits, were neither "few nor far between." Members of the Americus 
Club carried a number of them up Prospect Hill to furnish accommodations 
for women and children. The Pittsburghers established branch distributing 
stations at Morrellville, Minersville, Cambria, Coopersdale, Brownstown and 
Kernville, in addition to those in Johnstown. The out-stations drew their 
supplies from Morrellville. Corpses found were taken to the morgues, pre- 
pared for burial and, if undentified, interred in one of the neighboring ceme- 
teries. A report of these bodies was sent to headquarters at Johnstown, 
with a description. The street railway track from Morrellville to Cambria was 
cleaned and travel made easy between all points south of the Conemaugh. 

On Monday the men engaged in the work of relief saw a gray-haired, bare- 
footed old lady, bent with the weight of years and poorly clad, walking down 
the railroad track alone. In the hope of affording her some aid, one of them 
approached and offered food, but she refused assistance. A well-dressed 
young. man came up, said the old lady was his mother, and that she was de- 
ranged over the loss of all she possessed. She was induced to enter one of 
the coaches of the train, and was given the first food she had eaten since the 
disaster. She also received a pair of shoes and other necessaries. Her son, 
who had came from Braddock to search for his mother, insisted upon paying 
for everything, but money did not purchase supplies on that train. The first 
train west carried the old lady, much revived in spirits and stronger in body, 
to the home of her son. 

Incidents that would have been ludicrous had they not been pitiful were 
common. Coming down the track, on Monday afternoon, from Cambria was a 
man carrying a baby in his arms, followed by three women and two children. 
The man's trousers were rolled up to his knees, and his feet encased in fine 
velvet slippers. He had been in the water and mud with this outfit since Fri- 
day night. The whole party were given the first food they had since the flood, 
and furnished with suitable clothing. While they were being cared for a lady 
passed dressed in a white satin dress with a lace bodice. She wore silk hose and 
white satin slippers. She was a resident of Morrellville, had been to a party in 
Johnstown the evening previous to the flood, and was prevailed upon to remain 
all night. She was caught in the flood and her finery rendered unfit for a 
rag-bag. 

The first cars of supplies from the east — Philadelphia's initial installment 
— arrived on Monday night. Temporary stations were opened for their distri- 
bution, which was done without formality. The chief care was to feed the 
hungry, then to clothe the naked and shelter the homeless. It was impossible 
to classify the applicants and find out whether they were deserving of relief. 
There were some impositions, but this was to be expected. One pert young 
woman elbowed her way through the crowd surrounding the supply shop on 



258 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

Adams street, waved a kid-gloved hand at the attendants, and indignantly de- 
manded the reason why a lot of dresses, shoes, underwear and two bonnets 
which she had ordered had not been sent to her home. A lady explained that 
the assistants were so busy attending to the poor, who carried away their own 
supplies, that the}' had neither the time nor means to establish an express de- 
partment. The young woman failed to appreciate the sarcasm, and insisted 
on selecting a number of articles. She wanted two dresses, two sets of under- 
wear, two pairs of shoes and two hats and new goods only. The lad)' informed 
the young woman that she had made a mistake, that the place was not a ladies' 
outfitting establishment, but if she would wait a few days a consignment of 
diamond rings and gold watches would arrive, when she could come around 
and complete her order. The young woman bounced off in a rage, and one 
of the other applicants remarked : 

"Why, that's Mary . She's going to be married next Monday. She's gathering her 

trousseau together !" 

Thus help was given as fast as active men and steam and horses could 
bring it. There was no time wasted in idle deliberations. Men, women and 
children were hungry, houseless and desolate. They had not long to wait, 
thanks to the read)' hands and liberal purses which hurried forward the 
earliest supplies of what the sufferers most needed. 




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XIX. 



ORDER OUT OF CHAOS. 

The Lawless Element Rampant -Repressing Robbery and R.ot-A Gang of Drunken 
Thieves -Organizing for the Protection of Life and Property -A Dictator Ap- 
posed— Loafers and Prowlers Shut Out -Workmen Engaged to Clear Off the 
Wreckage — Pittsburgh Contractors at the Helm — A Horde of "Tin-Tag" Of- 
ficers-Amateur Photographers Shoveling Dirt -The Initial Steps Towards 
Repairing the Ravages of the Deluge. 



No time just now to calculate the cost- 
Though terrible the waste, all is not lost; 
Make room for willing hands to clear the wreck away, 
Confusion shall not linger even for a day. 



O W LOW wretches formed in the image of the Creator 
can descend was demonstrated time and again 
on Saturday, the day after the flood. The awful 
visitation, which should have sobered the most 
hardened, was made the occasion of a wild carni- 
val of riot, and disorder. Men who, unfortu- 
nately for the race, had not been swallowed up 
by the waters, took advantage of the confusion to 
rob and revel with impunity. Thieves broke into 
houses whose owners had fled to the hills or 
were lying among the dead, pilfering everything 
portable. Trunks in the debris were smashed 
and their contents stolen. Acres of wreck, acres 
of corpses, acres of desolation had no effect in 
restraining the lawless hordes. Barrels and kegs of liquor, recovered from 
saloon cellars, were emptied down the throats of the depraved mob. One 
gang got hold of a cask of brandy and drank to stupefaction. Ghouls, more 
hke^wild beasts than human beings, took every article from dead bodies, not 
leaving anything that would serve to identify the remains. Hungarians col- 




clbaring away the wrkckage of 
the gautier wire mills. 



262 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

lected about a number of bodies at Cambria, which had been washed up, and 
attempted to strip them. This monstrous outrage was prevented by two citi- 
zens, who pointed their revolvers at the miscreants and drove them away. 

The amount of drunkenness was astonishing. Maudlin fellows carried 
whiskey around in pails, while others scrambled and fought for the stuff when- 
ever a barrel was located in the wreckage. A burly brute, standing on the 
strings of a upright piano, sang an obscene song, breaking into a dance at in- 
tervals. A dozen others engaged in a hand-to-hand fight over the possession 
of the furniture of a ruined house, the crowd around them yelling like Apaches 
on the war-path. An intoxicated Hungarian woman fished out a trunk and on 
breaking it open found $500. Another woman found a jewel-box containing 
several rings and -a gold watch, which she had the audacity to wear as her 
own property. Large quantities of plunder were taken up the hill and stored 
in out-of-the-way places by base rascals compared with whom Claude Duval 
and Dick Turpin were patterns of honesty. Respectable people had been so 
overpowered by the extent of the calamity that they could think of nothing but 
the fearful loss of life and how to dispose of the victims. The depredations 
of the unruly pillagers could not go unchecked. Energetic measures were 
adopted, which awed the law-breakers and soon restored good order. 

Wholesale lynching and shooting was not needed to accomplish the de- 
sired result. Let the world understand clearly and distinctly that such dis- 
patches as these had not a grain of truth in their composition : 

" They have just hung a man over near the railroad to the telegraph pole for cutting the 
finger off a dead woman in order to get a ring." 

1 ' Every hour brings news of swift and merited punishment meted out to the fiends who 
have dared to desecrate the stiff and mangled corpses in the search for plunder. A lot of Huns 
came upon the body of a woman, who wore jewelry and two diamond rings. In their eagerness 
to secure the prizes, the robbers got into a squabble. One of them severed and ran off with the 
fingers having. the rings. A number of farmers saw the deed and chased the villains. The Hun- 
garians showed fight, but were out-numbered. Nine escaped and four were driven into the 
river to their death." 

"Two miles below Johnstown a citizen watched three men going along the banks stealing 
the jewels from the bodies of the dead wives and daughters of men who have been robbed of 
all they hold dear on earth. He had no sooner reported the fact than five burly men, with looks 
of terrible determination, were on their way to the scene of plunder, one with a coil of rope over 
his shoulder and another with a revolver in his hand. In twenty minutes they had overtaken 
two of the wretches in the act of cutting pieces from the ears and fingers from the hands of the 
bodies of two dead women. With revolver leveled at the scoundrels the leader of the posse 
shouted to them to throw up their hands or he would blow their heads off. With blanched faces 
and trembling forms they obeyed the order and begged for mercy. They were searched. As 
their pockets were emptied of their ghastly finds the indignation of the crowd intensified. 
When the bloody finger of an infant, encircled with two tiny gold rings, was found among the 
plunder in the leader's pocket a cry went up to lynch them. Without a moment's delay ropes 
were thrown around their necks and they were dangling to the limbs of a tree, in the branches 
of which an hour before were entangled the bodies of a dead father and son. After the 



ORDER OUT OF CHAOS. 263 

expiration of a half hour the ropes were cut, the bodies lowered, carried to a pile of rocks and 
dumped into a hole." 

"Five robbers altogether were shot this afternoon, and two of them killed outright. The 
lynchings so far number from sixteen to twenty." 

If wholly fictitious, how did such reports originate? Take this as an 
illustration. On Saturday afternoon a trustworthy resident of Feeder street 
ran up to a knot of men, one of whom was myself, saying : 
"An officer has just shot a man up at the corner!" 

Hastening to the spot, in the belief that one instance of real killing would 
be ferreted out at last — twenty reported during the day had proved canards — 
we found a crowd. A negro was lying in the gutter on Adams street, half- 
drunk and stunned from a blow delivered by a sturdy citizen, who had seen the 
scamp stealing a lot of clothing. Somebody called out that the African was 
killed and the story traveled with the speed of a winged Mercury. 

One case of partial lynching did occur. A foreigner detected leaving a 
deserted house with valuable property was seized by a few citizens, who 
fastened a cord around his neck and jerked him into the air. The)' let him 
hang a short time, then cut him down and he was allowed to go. The man was 
so badly scared that his own mother would not have recognized him in the 
cowering whelp who shook like an aspen leaf. One man, caught in the act of 
robbing the body of an old woman, protested that he got nothing and was re- 
leased. He disappeared, and it was found afterward that he had taken $ 100 
from the corpse. 

A half-breed negro was doing a thriving business in collecting clothing, 
jewelry and even furniture. The citizens stopped him very suddenly, threat- 
ening to lynch him. In two instances narrow escapes from the rope were 
made. 

The people of Johnstown were not walking arsenals, killing folks at sight, 
or vigilantes executing lynch law indiscriminately. They neither thirsted for 
gore nor went gunning for material to start new graveyards. Several loafers, 
trying to break into trunks and safes, were shot in the arms or legs, a punish- 
ment richly merited. A prominent gentleman discovered two men and a 
woman cutting the finger from a dead woman to get her rings. His rifle 
cracked twice in quick succession, and the right arm of each man dropped, 
shattered by a bullet. The woman was not harmed, but so badly frightened that 
she would not rob corpses again. The disposition on the part of many for- 
eigners to raid the houses and do an all-around thieving business was nipped 
before it bore so much fruit as its projectors must have reckoned upon. Yet 
there was a great deal of wilful, deliberate stealing from the living and the 
dead on Saturday. The Chief of Police had lost his wife, family and home, 
and was prostrated. One member of the force was lying in the morgue ; others 
were hunting the bodies of their missing children ; some of the councilmen had 
perished, and municipal authority was paralyzed. 



264 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

Among the worst features of the wreck were the actions of fiendish relic 
hunters and heartless excursionists, The writer saw a monomaniac secure the 
charred bones of an infant from among the smoking debris, wrap them carefully 
in a newspaper, and carry them away with a look of triumph on his face. One 
man stole an old bandanna handkerchief from the head of a dead colored 
woman. Another removed a shoe from an old gray-haired man, whose stiff 
and mangled corpse was found dangling in a tree ; while a third possessed 
himself of the sheet which was thrown over the remains of a child, leaving 
the body at the mercy of a weeping heaven. The excursionists who thronged 
the regions around about would have been more at home in a prison than any- 
where else, if one were to judge by their actions. Some of them went about 
singing, whistling and cracking the coarsest of jokes, while others trampled 
over the coffins strewn along the road with an utter disregard for their 
contents. 

Mr. Arthur J. Moxham, perceiving the inability of the authorities to cope 
with the ruffians and restore quiet, on Saturday afternoon ordered two hundred 
of his employes from Moxham. These were sworn in as special officers and 
speedily subdued the hoodlums. A conference of leading gentlemen resulted 
in the selection of a Cititzens' Committee to assist in enforcing the law and re- 
pressing the abettors of disorder. A dozen of the ringleaders were run out of 
town, with a hint that a change of climate was essential to their continuance 
on this planet. All the liquor that could be found was spilled, guards were 
posted at convenient points, and by dark something like a thorough organiza- 
tion had been effected. These judicious measures worked to a charm. The 
turbulent spirits wilted, crime sneaked into obscurity and chaos no longer held 
undisturbed control. 

Alexander M. Hart, a responsible citizen, was put at the head of the 
police system, and no person could enter Johnstown without his permission. 
In this way improper characters, adventurers, thugs and pick-pockets, who 
flocked to the scene on Sunday, were excluded. Permits were granted all hav- 
ing legitimate business within the borough limits. They . were printed on 
rough paper and enabled the holder to pass the guards at pleasure. My own 
was in this style : 



Pass J. /. McLaurin to every 
part of the District. 

\ PERMANENT. n] 

5) Alex. M. Hart, fj 

I Chief of Police, jjj 

8 Johnstown, June 1, iSSg. Bj 



By Monday the unruly element had been put down to stay .down and 
the Citizens' Committee had matters well organized. Next day a proclama- 



ORDER OUT OF CHAOS. 265 

tion was issued that all men able to labor must report for work or leave the 
place. As the committee expressed it : 

" We have too much to do to support idlers, and will not abuse the generous help that is 
being sent by doing so." 

At a public meeting on Wednesday, by a unanimous vote, Mr. J. B. Scott, 
of Pittsburgh, was chosen Dictator and vested with absolute power to punish 
offenders summarily. On Thursday morning Mr. Scott announced the follow- 
ing committees : 

Supplies. — John Thomas, Rev. Father Tehaney, Louis M. Lunen, C. B. Cover and C. 
Skill, secretary. 

Finance. — James McMillan, Thomas Swank, W. C. Lewis, John Roberts, Dwight Roberts 
and Cyrus Elder. 

Teams and Messengers. — James McMillan, John Walters and R. W. Welch, secretary. 

Information and Transportation. — R. S. Murphy and Cyrus Brown. 

Company Committee. — Captain Kuhn, John Masterson, William Boyd and Charles 
Griffith. 

Removal of Dead Animals. — Charles Zimmerman. 

Morgue. — Rev. Dr. Beale and Mr. Chatburne. 

Remover of Debris. — T. L. Johnson. 

Time-Keeping and Books. — John S. Little. 

Dangerous Buildings. — John Coffin and Richard Eyre. 

Police Committee. — Captain Gagely and A. M. Hart. 

Outside Search for Living and Dead. — John Piatt and William McHenry. 

Fire Department. — William Ossenberger, chief. 

Employment. — H. C. Evans. 

Sanitary Corps. — Drs. Lowman, Mathews and Lee. 

Everything was reduced to a thorough system and moved with the regu- 
larity of clock-work. Captain A. J. Logan, of the Americus Club, was given 
charge of points west of Johnstown. Mr. Scott possessed the happy combin- 
ation of firmness and gentleness his trying position demanded. To the sufferers 
he was ever courteous and considerate ; to evil-doers, a man of indomitable 
resolution, whom they would do well to avoid. He had the courage and dis- 
cretion to say "No" when it should be said. His administration was vigorous 
and depredators had a wholesome respect for his authority, which continued 
until the State assumed the direction of affairs the second week in June. 

The sheriff of Cambria County deputized a large force of special officers, 
known as the "tin-tag police," from wearing home-made stars, cut out of 
tomato cans or anything that would furnish the requisite metal. A good many 
of the men employed in this manner were grossly incompetent. Puffed up 
with a sense of self-importance ridiculously disproportionate to their office, 
the)' anno}^ed people bytheir tyrannical exactions. Citizens looking for friends 
or property had to run the gauntlet of a host of these overbearing specials at 
every turn. Able-bodied chaps, too lazy to work, would manufacture tin stars, 
attach them to their coats and strut around with the airs of a despot. In this 



266 THE STOR V OF JO HNS TO WN. 

way the simon-pure, name-blown-in-the-bottle officers were sometimes charged 
with perpetrating grave abuses of which they knew nothing. The "tin-tag" 
dispensation lasted over a week as a sort of side-show, passing away with the 
advent of military rule. 

Superintendent J. V. Patton, of the Baltimore & Ohio, was the first rail- 
road official to announce the running of through trains into Johnstown. He 
also announced that his road would furnish transportation free for all kinds of 
supplies that should be sent to the suffering people. This was but one of the 
man}' offers of liberality received from every source. One of the hardest things 
to deal with was the morbid curiosity of people of all classes who went to the 
devastated towns simply to view the horrible disaster. These crowds grew so 
great that messages were sent from Johnstown : 

" For God's sake, keep the sight-seers away !" 

The railroads entered into the spirit of this cry and refused tickets on Sun- 
day to points within twenty miles west of Johnstown. Although passes were 
required to get into Johnstown proper, shoals of curiosity-seekers swarmed 
around the outskirts. Many contrived to steal in during the night. Not less 
than two hundred amateur photographers were on hand the first week, ready 
to level their cameras on anything that turned up. A lot of these gentry were 
set to work clearing the wreck, which had a salutary influence. 

Abundance of food and clothing seemed to be assured by the middle of 
the week. Hundreds of corpses had been buried and the clearing away of the 
wreckage beacme a vital question. Philip S. Flinn, Assistant Superintendent 
of the Highway Department for the Second District of Pittsburgh, started for 
Johnstown on Saturday morning and was one of the first to set foot within the 
town. There he worked to relieve suffering and secure the speedy transporta- 
tion of provisions. On Monday the Young Men's Republican Tariff Club of 
Pittsburgh sent him 165 laborers and ten foremen to begin the removal of the 
rubbish. This force was too small to be of any practical use, and on Monday 
1,300 laborers and 280 teams were sent by Booth & Flinn, the Pittsburgh con- 
tractors. Hon. William Flinn, brother of Philip S., came with them and 
assumed general direction of the men and horses. He doubled and trebled this 
number during the week, making a very perceptible impression upon the debris. 
Mr. Flinn advised using dynamite to clear the obstructions above the railroad 
bridge and Major William Phillips was engaged to do the work. So success- 
ful was he that he gained the nickname of "Dynamite Bill." The Major used 
seventeen thousand pounds of dynamite in one day, discharging five shots of 
five hundred and forty pounds each, the heaviest ever fired in Pennsylvania. 
It had its effect on the twenty-two feet of drift at the bridge, which finally 
yielded and gave way, but not until cant-hooks and all known devices had 
been added to the dynamite. One of the principal difficulties which they had 
to face was the feeding of the army of workmen. To keep six thousand 



ORDER OUT OF CHAOS. 267 

laborers in provender in a devastated valley was no easy task, but it was per- 
formed. On June 12th Booth & Flinn withdrew their forces from the field, 
which had begun to present an aspect quite different from its appearance ten 
days before. 

Great anxiety prevailed as to what the Cambria Iron Company would do 
regarding the rebuilding of the Gautier wire mills. Vice-President McMillen 
said on Monday : 

"The mill will be rebuilt immediately. I have sent out orders that all men that can mus- 
ter report at the mill to-morrow to commence cleaning up. I do not think the building is 
insured against flood. The great thing we want is to get that mill in operation again." 

This cheering news was supplemented by a brief notice posted on Wednes- 
day, the meaning of which all interested understood at a glance : 
" Report at nine o'clock to-morrow morning for work." 

Saturday was to have been the pay-day of the Cambria Company's em- 
ployes, and a clerk had drawn $80,000 from the bank on Friday, fearing the 
high water might render it inconvenient to get the money out of the safe the 
next morning. The workmen knew that the notice did not mean that they 
should report at the Gautier mill, for that was gone, and they went to the gen- 
eral office, which the walls of the big store had saved from destruction. L. 
L. Smith, the superintendent, was on hand early with three clerks to make up 
the roster of the Gautier forces. Thirteen hundred stalwart fellows had left 
the works when work closed at noon on Friday, May 31st. How many would 
respond to the roll-call on Thursday, June 6th ? 

It was not long before the men began to arrive. At the head of the 
platoon was a boy. Following him were five men, who looked as though they 
had parted with all they held dear in life. Two were English, one was a Ger- 
man, one Irish and one colored. Three of them carried pick-axes in their 
hands, which they had been using on the wreckage upon the streets. Let a 
versatile correspondent describe what transpired : 

" ' Say, Mister,' said the boy, with a tremor in his voice, ' is this the place ? ' 'Are you a 
Gautier man ? ' asked Mr. Smith in a kindly tone. ' Yes, sir ; me and my father worked to- 
gether. But — father's gone.' And a ragged sleeve brushed away a briny tear. 

" In a broken voice the agent told the boy to report at the lower office for work. Turning 
to the other men he told them that they were to turn in at once and clear away the wreckage 
about the mill, so that it could be started again as soon as possible ; that the intention of the 
company was to go right on and face the worst, and that the men should do likewise ; with 
faces to the future, all backs should be turned upon the past. When Mr. Smith had concluded, 
a burly fellow, who had seen his wife and babe swept away from him, said : ' But suppose we 
don't feel like goin' to work to-day. Do we have to ? ' ' No, men. You don't have to go to 
work until you're ready. But it's the company's desire to get matters in shape as soon as 
possible.' 

"While Mr. Smith was talking other workmen came in. They had pick-axes on their 
shoulders. They heard the agent's last remark, and one of them, stepping forward, said, ' A 
good many of us are at work clearing up the town. Shall we leave that ? ' ' There are men here 



268 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWX. 

for that purpose, ' was the response. ' And the best thing you can do, boys, is to give us your 
names, so we can find out how many of our men are left.' 

"All this time members of the stricken army of workmen were filing into the muddy- 
floored office, looking more and more like the remnant of a routed army. In twos, threes and 
dozens they came, some wearing faces gray with grief, while others displayed grievous wounds 
wrought by the angry floods. One man had a deep cut in the back of his head, another limped 
along upon a heavy stick, and one had lost a finger and had an ugly bruise upon his cheek. 

" Seated in the office was J. N. Short, the foreman of the cold-steel-shafting department, 
and many of the men who filed past had been under him in the works. There were handshakes 
all the more hearty and congratulations all the more sincere because of what all had passed 
through. 

" 'I tell you. Mr. Short,' said Workman J. T. Miller, ' I'm glad to see you're safe !' 

" 'And how 6\Ayou fare, old man ?' 

" 'All right, thank God !' 

" At this moment a joyous meeting between two men occurred at the door. One was a 
gray-haired hero who wore a Grand Army badge, and the other a young man of twenty-three or 
thereabouts. They had been fast friends in the same department, and each thought the other 
dead. They knew no better till they met upon the threshold of the office door. ' Why, I heard 
your body had been found at Nineveh, ' said the old man. ' And I was told that you had been 
burned to death at the bridge,' was the rejoinder. 

" A pale-faced little woman, with a ragged shawl thrown about her shoulders entered and 
stood by the rail. ' My husband cannot report,' she said, in an awe-stricken whisper. 'He 
worked in the Gautier mill ?' she was asked. A nod and a whisper answered the question. 

' Make a note that Mr. is lost,' said Mr. Smith to one of his clerks, ' and that his wages 

are to be paid to his wife.' 

' ' And so it was through the livelong day. At last, when evening came and the office was 
about to close, Mr. Smith said : ' Out of nearly fourteen hundred men but four hundred and 
eighty-seven have reported. It is possible that there are two hundred more who either did not 
see the notice or who did not care to return to work. At least I hope so ; before God, I hope so !" 

The workers started on Friday morning with hearty good-will to clear the 
site of the mills, which had been buried under an avalanche of sand. During 
the week, rows of tents were pitched in the vicinity of the Baltimore & Ohio 
depot for the men brought from Pittsburgh, and frame stables accommodated 
the horses that hauled the refuse to the dumping-ground. Bonfires lighted up 
the horizon at night, stacks of rubbish keeping them constantly replenished. 
The State Board of Health distributed tons of disinfectants free of charge, 
thus doing much to avert disease. At Kernville, which sustained incalculable 
damage, dismantled houses were fired as the easiest way of getting them out 
of the way. Merchants whose places of business were not demolished com- 
menced repairs. 

For the first day or two people were dazed by what had happened. The}' 
went about helplessly, making vague inquiries for their friends, and hardly 
feeling a desire to live. The}' had to sleep without any covering, in their wet 
clothes, and it took the liveliest skirmishing to get anything to eat. The 
women and children were housed as far as it could be done. Dwellings on the 
hills, designed for five or six people, crowded twenty, thirty or forty into three 



ORDER OUT OF CHAOS. 260 

or four hampered rooms. Old citizens felt themselves refugees in their own 
bailiwick. Although thousands toiled incessantly to remove and burn the 
debris, the number of idlers was b}- no means small. Every other fellow to be 
met for days wore a blue suit, a tin star, a badge, a red hat-band, or a mark 
that was supposed to invest him with more or less authorit)'. Many of these 
men did excellent service in various directions, but of others it must be said 
that their room would have been much better than their company. The whole 
herd had to be fed and lodged, thus drawing heavily upon the contributions 
poured in from outside. All these things were regulated later, when the terror 
of the overwhelming disaster gave place to a general desire to set the wheels of 
trade once more moving. Encouraging symptoms cropped out occasionally. 
Men talked of resuming business, and one heard of plans looking to the speedy 
re-establishment of the varied enterprises that for years made Johnstown a 

center of profitable activity. 

A bird's-eye view from the mountain-side on Saturday evening showed 
that the waters had subsided almost to their usual level. With the receding 
waters the scene of desolation became hourly more weird and picturesque. 
The party of workmen had done so well that a big blast of twenty-five dyna- 
mite cartridges in the forenoon loosened up the debris and made it possible 
to open the mouth of the old channel at the bridge. This gang of workmen 
located the lost cars of the Day Express, which was destroyed at East Cone- 
maugh. The ruins of the train destroyed were about one hundred feet from the 
fourth buttress from the western end of the stone bridge. Parts of the parlor 
car were found, as well as traces of the passengers. About nine o'clock in 
the morning the baggage of Miss Annie Chrisman was reached. She was a 
missionary on her way to Brazil for the Women's Foreign Missionary Society 
of the Methodist Church. Among her effects was a Bible, and in it was a 
message to be filed at Altoona and addressed to the Methodist Book Con- 
cern at No. 20 East Tenth street, New York, announcing that she was on the 
train. Her watch, some money and a Greek testament were also found and 
sent to Altoona. 

The close of the week — a week of shadow and sunshine, of alternate hopes 
and fears, of sad revelations and dire forebodings — saw the stricken district 
somewhat changed for the better. The workmen had cleared up an im- 
mense mass of rubbish, yet how little in comparison with the vast accumula- 
tions still untouched ! Main street had been considerably relieved of the huge 
piles of wreckage that filled it up to the second or third stories of the build- 
ings left standing. The task was a frightful one, bringing to light many 
corpses of victims whose lives went out amid the cruel crush and swirl of the 
hissing waters. In other parts of the town progress was observable, while a 
few new buildings indicated that Johnstown would ultimately be restored. 
The Baltimore & Ohio track had been renewed to the station, enabling freight 



2 j a THE STORY QF JOHNSTOWN. 

cars to run to the very heart of the devastated section. Hundreds of white 
tents dotted the flat and the Prospect hillside, giving the place a camp aspect 
in strange contrast with its former industrial surroundings. Steam derricks 
seconded the efforts of a myriad willing hands at the acres of wreck and ruin 
above the railroad bridge, which would require weeks to remove. Very fre- 
quently dead bodies were unearthed, so swollen, mangled and distorted as not 
to be recognizable. The yawning chasm in the Penns}dvania railroad track 
had been filled up, and trains ran to East Conemaugh, where the washout of 
rails, ties and road-bed was complete. Property-owners were doing what they 
could to bring order out of confusion, exerting themselves to get things into 
some sort of shape. But the dreadful havoc was appalling enough to dis- 
courage the stoutest heart and cause the survivors to shrink back in horror 
from the waste of desolation. 




General Hastings at Johnstown. 




Group at General Hastings' Headquarters. 



XX. 



UNDER MILITARY AUTHORITY. 

The Adjutant-General of Pennsylvania on the Ground — His Humble Meal and 
Tramp Protege — Consulting with the Sheriff and the Burgess — Troops Called 
Out — The Fourteenth Regiment Does Effective Service — Visit of Governor 
Beaver — Interesting Letters and Dispatches — The State Assumes Entire 
Charge — The Board of Health Actively Engaged — Vigorous Work in Clearing 
the Wreckage and Restoring the Ruined District. 




The soldiers come, but not on carnage bent — 
Theirs is a noble, generous intent ; 
The guards are placed, heard is the sentry's tramp, 
The wasted district has been made a camp. 



ROM the beginning it was evident that the State must take 
a hand in the reorganization and restoration of the ruined 
district. The task was too great for private enterprise. 
The reports of robberies and outrages intensified the sen- 
timent in favor of the presence of troops. Antici- 
pating decisive action, the Fourteenth and Eighteenth 
Regiments, Battery B and the Washington Infantry, all 
of Pittsburgh, were in readiness on Saturday to march 
at the word of command. The public pulse was at 
fever heat, fearing a general outbreak. People outside 
knew of the situation only from the flaming reports pub- 
lished in bulletins and newspapers. However, one regi- 
ment was deemed sufficient, and on Monday, June 3rd, 
the Fourteenth started for Johnstown, Col. E. D. 
Perchment commanding. Until the middle of Jul)' the 
organization remained on duty. A regular military camp was established. 
Tents were pitched, patrols kept without a break, and for a time the town re- 
minded the citizens forcibly of war times. In the earl}' days of June it was 



SOLDIERS ON GUARD. 



274 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

necessary to keep sight-seers and relic-hunters out. Then it was that the 
military came into service most prominently. A cordon of soldiers sur- 
rounded the town. No person was admitted or released without the pass- 
word. Disturbers of the peace were promptly drummed out and ordered not 
to return. Some were put to work with a chain-gang organized to clear up 
the gorge at the bridge, and all received their just deserts. When the Four- 
teenth Regiment retired from active service on July 13th, Captain Nesbitt's 
company of sixty men and two lieutenants was ordered to remain and con- 
tinue on duty during the summer. 

Adjutant-General Hastings, seventy miles away, heard on Friday night 
that a flood had done serious damage at Johnstown. At the first streak of 
dawn on Saturday morning he set out for the scene of devastation, driving the 
entire distance. The roads were deep with mud for miles at a stretch. There 
were streams to ford, ruts to shun and washouts to dodge. But the gallant 
soldier was not to be deterred by any obstacle, and at 5:20 in the evening he 
alighted at the foot of Prospect Hill, opposite the Pennsylvania station. The 
flats were still under water, and none could enter or leave Johnstown by 
crossing the Conemaugh. The General viewed the wasted region from the 
bank of the creek and realized that a tremendous responsibility devolved upon 
the State authorities. Messages were sent to Governor Beaver, informing him 
of the condition of affairs, so far as then known. Food was extremely scarce, 
and where his supper was to come from the Adjutant-General of Pennsylvania 
was unable to conjecture. He sat on a log back of the station. Two tramps 
approached and greeted him civilly. One, a man of fine physique, built on the 
generous model of Hastings himself, held in his hands a rusty tin vessel, that 
had been a coffee-pot in its prime. This he had picked up somewhere, 
together with some Java, which he brewed into a steaming decoction. Gen- 
eral Hastings was invited to "take some," and drank a copious draught. 
The coffee had no cream or sugar, neither had it been cleared with the white 
of an egg, but it tasted like the nectar of the gods. A conversation followed, 
in the course of which the tramp told how he had arrived in the afternoon. 
For three years he had been a vagrant, leaving a wife and children in Connect- 
icut. Something about the man impressed the General favorably, and he asked 
him to stay and work. The poor fellow agreed cheerfully. That night the 
two slept awhile on the floor of the. signal tower near the depot. The tramp 
proved faithful and competent, shirking no labor and never complaining. 
When the time approached for the soldiers to depart, he said to General 
Hastings : 

"I shall stay with you until the last moment. I have made up my mind to go back to 
Connecticut, ask the forgiveness of my wife and children, quit drinking and be a decent citizen." 

The General wished the penitent prodigal to go with him to his home at 
Bellefonte for a week's rest, and it was so arranged. "Jim," as he was called 



UNDER MILITARY AUTHORITY. 275 

about the camp, then started over town to draw his savings from the bank and 
purchase a suit of clothes. Two hours later he returned, somewhat the worse 
for liquor. The General expostulated with him and he promised not to touch 
another drop. Then he went down the railroad track towards the stone bridge. 
Once he stopped to treat an acquaintance from a bottle he carried in his pocket. 
Both had a swig and "Jim" staggered along. A train dashed around the 
curve, the locomotive bore him down, his legs were cut off and a mutilated 
corpse was all that remained of the Connecticut tramp. The officers and men 
provided a fine coffin and gave the victim such a funeral as a prince might 
envy. The wanderer had reached home at last ! 

General Hastings crossed over to Johnstown on Sunday morning and 
consulted with Sheriff Stineman and Burgess Hoerle as to the advisability of 
calling out the National Guard. These officials objected strenuously, claiming 
the troops were not needed and that their presence would only irritate any ill- 
disposed persons. Members of Battery B and the Washington Infantry had 
arrived by this time, without waiting for orders. They were abruptly sent back 
to Pittsburgh. Lieutenant Gammel, who had charge of the men, said : 

"We would like to have stayed, but we had to obey orders, and we took the first train for 
home. Even the short time we were there the fifty-five men had pulled out thirty-five bodies." 

On Sunday night another consultation was held, at which the Sheriff and 
Burgess consented to sign a request to the Governor for troops. It was 
argued that thousands of imported laborers would be clearing the wreckage 
and that an organized bod)' of men might be required to quell disturbances. 
Accordingly the Fourteenth Regiment was summoned," an action depre- 
cated by many influential citizens of Johnstown, who believed the advent of 
the military would arouse the passions of the disorderly element much as a 
red rag infuriates a rampant taurine ! 

Governor Beaver was in Maryland when the flood ravaged the Cone- 
maugh Valley, and the first dispatches to him from General Hastings were 
delayed. The Governor issued a ringing proclamation, soliciting help for the 
sufferers, and on Sunday, June 9th, visited Johnstown. He arrived earl)' in 
the morning, by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, breakfasted with General 
Hastings and rode over the district on horseback. When the party returned 
to headquarters they dismounted and walked to the stone bridge, to view the 
acres of wreckage on the Point. They were then taken in a special car up the 
Pennsylvania Railroad track as far as Conemaugh. It was intended that the 
Governor should go on to the end of the reconstructed portion of the railroad 
and hold a consultation with Vice-President Frank Thomson, but he went 
back to headquarters. There was a long wait for Mr. Scott. At 5 o'clock the 
Governor, Mr. Scott, General Hastings, all the heads of departments, with 
Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Chicago men, went into a secret conference. 
The conference lasted an hour and a half, and the decision was substantially 



276 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

that the State should take charge of the work. Arrangements were at once 
begun for gradually turning over the work of the relief department, and for the 
preservation of order in the town, to the staff of Adjutant-General Hastings. 
The town was to be practically, if not formally, put under martial law, and the 
deputy-sheriffs and policemen dismissed. Upon his return home Governor 
Beaver sent a number of letters and dispatches, now first published. One 
reads as follows : 

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 

Executive Chamber, 
Harrisburg, June nth, i8Sg 
General D. H. Hastings, Johnstown, Pa. 

General : Colonel Potter goes forward this afternoon as the bearer of these despatches and 
also of the money which I send you herewith for the purposes mentioned in your telegram of 
last night. As to the work to be done in the Conemaugh Valley under the police powers of the 
State, it must be confined strictly to what is necessary to be done by the State in clearing the 
streams of debris and foul matter, and in abating the nuisances which endanger public health 
and safety. 

The municipalities must, as far as possible, care for their own streets beyond what we do 
to rid them of the nuisances endangering the health. Street-car companies and other corpora- 
tions interested in restoration must look out for their tracks and for their corporate property. 
The State, as you of course will understand, cannot in any case use her means for such pur- 
poses. 

Colonel Douglass, Chief Engineer of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Company, reports to 
you this morning, as per request made to the authorities of the road, to act as the chief engineer 
in directing the removal of these nuisances. Mr. John B. McDonald, an experienced railroad 
contractor, goes under contract with me to furnish from 1,000 to 2,000 laborers with proper 
foremen, time-keepers, tools, etc. , so as to make a complete and compact organization, which 
he controls for the removal of this debris. He will fix the wage-rate, time and terms of pay- 
ment, and have all details of that character under his own control. 

Deeming it better that some one representing me directly should be upon the ground, I 
asked you personally and now formally request that you assume general charge of this work, so 
that I may have some one with whom I can be in constant communication as to its progress and 
necessity for further continuance. It is, as you understand, a thoroughly business transaction, 
and must be so managed that all the expenditures can pass through the hands of the Auditor- 
General in order that they may be audited by him. All accounts should be kept with this in 
view. 

The emergency is so imminent that it is impossible to convene the Legislature and secure 
an appropriation in the regular way for this work. Indeed, it has been too long delayed, owing 
to my inability to reach the treasurer (who was flood-bound), either by wire or messenger and 
without whose concurrence it was impossible to do anything in this direction. 

There is now no question but that the money needed for this purpose will be forthcoming 
— the people from all parts of the State generously responding to my appeal to guarantee my 
obligation to the State Treasurer. Any contracts which you have made, or any obligations 
which you have already incurred in reference to this matter can, of course, be carried out 
through Mr. McDonald or be in harmony with his operations. 

Very cordially yours, 

James A. Beaver. 



UNDER MILITARY AUTHORITY. 277 

The same day this important letter was forwarded : 

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 
Executive Chamber, 
Harrisburg, yune n, 1889. 
General D. H. Hastings, Adjutant-General of Pennsylvania, Johnstown, Pa, 

General : Referring to the fact that the Sheriff of Cambria County has requested the assist- 
ance of the military arm of the Executive Department in maintaining order in Cambria County. 
I wish to say that the military is to be used as much as possible in subordination to and in har- 
mony with the civil authorities. If any portion of the National Guard is stationed outside the 
limits of Cambria County, and no application has been made by the sheriffs of the respective 
counties in which it may be placed, it might be well to consider the propriety of withdrawing 
them so as to bring them within the limits of Cambria County. As fast as the authorities of 
the several municipalities in and about Johnstown are able to regain their standing and to con- 
trol their own affairs the military will, of course, be withdrawn. You will gradually and quietly 
withdraw as many of the guards as may be done with safety until you finally bring your force 
in and around the depots of supplies, which, as I understand it, will come into your charge. I 
can see no possible objection, legal or otherwise, to your retaining so much of the military as may 
be needed for this purpose as long as the supplies are necessary for the people of the commu- 
nity. The force, however, should be reduced just as rapidly as circumstances will permit, so 
as to bring it to the minimum necessary for such a purpose. 

I am glad to note the entire harmony which has seemed to exist between the military and 
civil authorities, and the aim should be to have that continue to the end. It is also pleasant to 
note that, so far as I am informed, no conflict of any kind has occurred between the members of 
the National Guard and the peace officers of the community, or the several municipalities 
which are crowded so closely together. 

As business is resumed and the ordinary affairs of municipal governments begin to assume 
shape there will be less necessity for guards of any kind throughout the devastated region, and 
our aim and effort should be to dispense with the use of the military just as soon as possible. 

Very cordially yours, 

James A. Beaver 

The next day — June 12th — another letter was sent: 

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 

Executive Chamber, 
Harrisburg, June 12, i88g. 

My Dear General : Expressing my satisfaction with the work which has been done and the 
efforts which have been made in aid of the people of Johnstown, which meets the approval of 
all classes, I wish to say in an informal way that these instructions are given to you so that yOu 
may use them for your protection in anything that you may be called upon to do. They are 
not intended so much as a limitation upon you as a protection against what you ma}' consider 
unwise and injudicious action yourself. 

The community will soon return to its normal condition and all that has been done and all 
that will be done at Johnstown will be viewed, unfortunately, through the glasses of cool, calcu- 
lating hindsight. This is becoming somewhat apparent already, but has not as yet probably- 
reached you. You are in the midst of the excitement, and every one at Johnstown shares the 
same feeling. 

In regard to the money that is given for charity, as well as every step that is taken in the 
progress of dealing with the vexed and perplexing questions which confront you directly, the 
spirit of caution and of criticism becomes more and more apparent, and the voice of the givers 
is in the direction of conservatism rather than in the other direction. Immediate bodily suffering 



278 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

is, of course, the first thought, and every one agrees that this is to be alleviated at all costs and 
at once. There is and will be no lack of money for this purpose. You can go upon the assump- 
tion that whatever is needed will be furnished to give food and clothing and bedding to the suf- 
ferers. The question of the rehabilitation of their homes, furnishing of tools and implements 
for mechanics, kitchen furniture, etc., for the sufferers, will all be dealt with by the Commis- 
sion which I hope to be able to name to-day. 

There are some important questions yet pending and undecided, depending upon other 
people, which prevented my doing this yesterday, as I would like to have done. The idea is, 
of course, to bring all our committees and all parties controlling funds under one management, 
so that there may be no duplication of charitv and no indecision as to what is necessary to be 
done. This may appear for the present as temporizing, but will in the end be found to be a 
wise and discreet thing. All needed present relief is given without stint and without inquiry, 
and will be so continued. 

Please have the vouchers for the expenditure of the money sent (which is much less than I 
suppose you would need for immediate purposes), kept in such way that they can be referred, 
so far as the relief is concerned, to the Commission when appointed, and so far as the work is 
concerned, to the Auditor-General. 

The most pressing demands at present are from the West Branch, where they seem to be 
in fear of epidemic and disease. This I am endeavoring to care for as quickly as possible, 
without in any way forgetting the other parts of the State which have strong claims. 

If you are in need at any time of any particular supplies that can be secured at Phila- 
delphia and will telegraph Mayor Fitler direct, he will see that they are supplied to you. Their 
resouces in Philadelphia are very great, both as to the means and the ability to secure just 
what you need, and they are ready to respond heartily at the merest suggestion in any way that 
they can render service. 

I hope to be able to reach Johnstown later in the week, and expect to see a great advance 
made in t'he immense work which is before you. You observed at the meeting the great doubt 
which exists among cool, calculating men as to the amount necessary to remove this debris. 
We will be held hereafter probably to the expenditure of the minimum amount, and whilst we 
will not hesitate — if that is not sufficient to do the work — to expend more, it is well to remem- 
ber that these conservative estimates have been made not only at Johnstown, but at the centers 
of influence and of charitable giving, as well as the centers of responsibility financially upon 
which I depend in carrying this scheme through. The scheme works beautifully and will, 
from present appearance, be a great success and bring a feeling of relief to everybody. 

Thanks for your courage and fidelity, and thanks to all who have responded to your call 
for immediate assistance, and who will stand by you until the emergency is over. We must make 
the emergency as short as possible. Very cordially yours, 

James A. Beaver. 

Grave questions had to be determined before the State assumed entire 
control. Clamors for an extra session of the Legislature, to appropriate mil- 
lions of dollars to prosecute the work of clearing away the rubbish and 
affording ample relief, assailed Governor Beaver from every side. Moderate 
estimates fixed the sum needed for this gigantic task at two millions of dollars. 
Happily the Governor did not yield- to the demands of uninformed parties, 
preferring to judge of the matter from personal inspection. Satisfied that an 
extra session would be an unjustifiable extravagance, he adopted a more sen- 
sible method. Days of precious time must elapse after the issuing of a pro- 
clamation before the Legislature could convene, while the expense would go 



UNDER MILITARY AUTHORITY. 



279 



far towards paying the whole cost of relieving the afflicted region. The 
Governor arranged with eastern capitalists for mone)' to meet whatever 
pecuniary obligations the State might incur, trusting to the next Legislature 
for reimbursement. It was a wise, statesmanlike act, saving the Treasury a 
large amount and enabling the authorities to put on a strong force of work- 
men immediately. 

The health of the sufferers was also a serious consideration. With thou- 
sands of rotting corpses and dead animals, acres of filth and rubbish, and cel- 
lars filled with decaying matter, the prospect of an epidemic was indeed 
alarming. The State Board of Health moved promptly, regardless of red tape 
and the ordinary circumlocution of official bodies. Dr. Benjamin Lee trans- 
mitted the subjoined preliminary report, which sets forth the initiator)' action 
of the Board : 

Pittsburgh, June yth, iS8g. 
To His Excellency, James A. Beaver, Governor of the Commonwealth 0/ Pennsylvania. 

Sir : I beg leave, respectfully to report that at 4:30 p. m., on Sunday, June 2d, I left Pitts- 
burgh for Johnstown, accompanied by Dr. G. G. Groff, a member of this Board, to inspect the 
flooded regions of the Conemaugh river. My primary object was to determine the extent of the 
danger of pollution of the Conemaugh, Kiskiminitas, Allegheny and Ohio rivers by the decom- 
position of dead bodies, whether those of human beings or domestic animals, and to reduce that 
danger within as narrow limits as possible. At Nineveh I found 162 dead bodies, which were 
being well and rapidly embalmed and awaited the action of the coroner. I telegraphed him 
that where identification had taken place the interests of the public health would warrant dis- 
pensing with the usual formalities, if necessary, for the expeditious removal of bodies. I ord- 
ered free use of disinfectants in and about the morgue. The work at this morgue was excel- 
tently done under Mr. Devore, of Pittsburgh. Seeing the urgent necessity for the employment 
of a large force of wreckers and searchers at the earliest possible moment, I telegraphed the 
Sheriffs of Allegheny, Westmoreland, Indiana and Cambria Counties, instructing each to sum- 
mon a large posse and proceed with the work of breaking up drift-piles and exhuming bodies. 
I also telegraphed Adjutant-General Hastings that I would report to him at Johnstown early the 
next morning. 

June 3rd I crossed the Conemaugh in a skiff to Old Nineveh, where I found twenty-eight 
bodies, not prepared for transportation. I authorized John Barber, Justice of the Peace, to hold 
an inquest, as nothing had been heard of the Coroner, and instructed him that all bodies iden- 
tified must be embalmed ; all others wrapped in sheets soaked in disinfectant, and all not iden- 
tified by 5 p. m. the following evening buried, a careful description of the body and belongings 
being kept and the graves marked. Left Dr. Riggs, of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, in 
charge at Nineveh. 

Reached Morrellville at 10:30 a. m. and walked up to Johnstown. Reported in writing to 
General Hastings, not being able to find him personally. Crossed the river and reported to 
Dr. Moxham, Chairman of the Provisional Committee, and advised him to order at once through 
the Chamber of' Commerce of Pittsburgh five thousand pounds of copperas and two thousand 
five hundred pounds of chloride of zinc for immediate necessities. Made inspection of the 
entire borough of Johnstown, and of the Bedford-street Hospital. The work of cremation of 
dead animals, of disinfection of carcasses which cannot yet be extricated, of house-to-house in- 
spection of inhabited houses, of cleaning and disinfecting such houses, and of instructing the 
people how to avoid disease as the result of the unusual conditions in which they are living, was 
at once inaugurated and is going on very systematically and efficiently under the superintend- 



2 8o THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

ance of Dr. Matthews, whom I appointed Chief of the Sanifery Corps. The comparatively 
small amount of sickness found by the inspectors is sufficient evidence of the value of this work. 
I have, therefore, less fear of any serious epidemic in Johnstown. Its water supply is, fortunately, 
pure. Much, however, will depend on the rapid destruction of debris and cleaning up of the 
place. For this a large force of men is needed. 

The most pressing problem now before the Board is the protection of the water supplies of 
cities on the rivers below. In order to render more efficient service in this matter. I came to 
Pittsburgh on June 6th, leaving Dr. Groff, whose sound judgment has been of the greatest as- 
sistance to me, in charge at Johnstown. 

Here I am organizing gangs of wreckers to go up as far as Johnstown and down as far as 
the State line, reclaiming all bodies and destroying all putrefying matter. There still remains 
a drift-heap of many acres in extent and many feet in depth, the greater part of it under water, 
which covers the Conemaugh River from the stone bridge of the Pennsylvania Railroad up to 
the junction with Stony Creek and extends a considerable distance up Stony Creek. This mass 
is jammed tightly against the bridge. The river flows under it, entirely concealed from sight. 
It is covered to a considerable extent with earth. To burn it as it stands would be an impos- 
sibility. It must contain some dead bodies of human beings and many carcasses. These are 
already putrefying and becoming offensive. Every day renders the situation worse and increases 
the contamination of the water. 

I, therefore, after a careful personal inspection of the entire situation, by virtue of the au- 
thority conferred upon the State Board of Health by the Act of June 3d, 1885, and delegated to 
me as its Executive Officer in Regulation First, declare the condition of things existing at Johns- 
town and neighboring boroughs, and especially of the drift-heap above described and of the 
waters of the Conemaugh and Kiskiminetas Rivers, to be a nuisance dangerous to the public 
health ; and, inasmuch as the extent of this nuisance is so great that the local authorities can- 
not abate it, I call upon your Excellency as Chief Executive of the Commonwealth to at once 
employ such force as may be necessary to remove and abate the same. 

I have the honor to be, Your Excellency's most obedient servant, 

Benjamin Lee, 
Secretary and Executive Officer. 

Acting upon the recommendations embodied in this report, the Governor 
issued the following proclamation, which may be viewed as the first official 
step in the direction of State control : 

In the Name and by the Authority of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. 
Executive Department. 



PROCLAMATION: 

Whereas, the State Board of Health through its secretary and executive officer, has this 
day made to me a report in writing, bearing date the 7th day of June, 1889, in which, after re- 
citing the action taken by said Board in reference to the recent floods which have devastated 
the Conemaugh Valley, and the work which has been done by the said Board in providing, as 
far as possible, for purifying the streams and maintaining the health of the people, the condition 
now existing along the Conemaugh River at Johnstown and in its vicinity is fully set forth ; 

And Whereas, the said Board, through its executive officer, as aforesaid, has made call 
upon the Chief Executive of the Commonwealth to take action in reference thereto, as follows: 

' ' /, therefore, after a careful personal inspection of the entire situation, by virtue of the 
authority conferred upon the State Board of Health by the Act of June 3d, 1885, and delegated 
to me as its executive officer in Regulation First, declare the condition of things existing at 



UNDER MILITARY AUTHORITY. 281 

Johnstown and neighboring boroughs and especially of the drift-heap above described, and of 
the waters of the Conemaugh and Kiskiminetas Rivers, to be a nuisance dangerous to the public 
health, and, inasmuch as the extent of this nuisance is so great that the local authorities cannot 
abate it, I call upon your Excellency as Chief Executive of the Commonwealth to at once em- 
ploy such force as may be necessary to remove and abate the same." 

Now, Therefore, I, James A. Beaver, Governor of the said Commonwealth, in deference to 
the said request of the State Board of Health, and in pursuance of its declaration, do hereby 
declare the said drift in the Conemaugh River, at Johnstown, and at other points in and about 
said locality, a public nuisance, and in accordance with the power granted to said Board, and 
acting under the authority of the law which confers said power, I do hereby direct that the said 
nuisance be immediately abated, and to this end I further direct that the men and means neces- 
sary for said purpose be immediately employed and continued at work until the said nuisance 
has been entirely abated, and the danger to public health and safety removed, and in doing 
this, and in order to provide the funds necessary therefor, I do hereby pledge the faith of the 
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. 

^Sjjfe» Given under my hand and the Great Seal of the State at the city of Harris- 

SulWUxSiS. burg, this twelfth day of June in the year of our Lord one thousand eight 
hundred and eighty-nine, and of the Commonwealth the one hundred and 
thirteenth. 

By the Governor : 

Charles W. Stone, JAMES A. BEAVER, 

Secretary of the Commonwealth. 

These preliminaries having been settled properly, the State took charge 
on Thursday morning, June 12th. The men employed by Booth & Flinn were 
paid off the day previous. Transportation to Pittsburgh was furnished such 
as declined to stay, and large numbers left for their homes. They had been 
receiving $2 per day. The rate the State proposed was $1.50. In establish- 
ing this scale great care was had not to interfere with the railroad companies, 
which had thousands of men renewing their tracks, by offering wages so high 
that the laborers might leave their jobs and rush to Johnstown. Again, the 
rate was put above that paid the railroad employes, as the work was disagree- 
able and arduous. Tugging and pulling out logs and boards from huge masses 
of wreckage, with the probability of running against a corpse or a carcass every 
moment, or digging in filth and mud up to the knees, was not an attractive 
business. The men engaged in it were entitled to increased pay, and the one- 
fifty schedule was fixed upon as equitable to all concerned. 

Mr. McDonald, whom Governor Beaver had enlisted in the service, re- 
ported to General Hastings. His ideas fell short of what appeared indispen- 
sable to meet the crisis. He proposed to import a host of foreigners from 
New York, in squads of a couple hundred. This meant delay, and might ex- 
cite the jealousy of native laborers. Accordingly, contracts were made with 
McLean & Co., Philadelphia; Coburn & Mitchell, Altoona ; P. Ridge, Pitts- 
burgh, and James McKnight, Pittsburgh, to clear away the debris. Philip S. 
Flinn remained as superintendent for Mr. McKnight, continuing until July, 



282 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

when all the contractors, except McLean & Co., were relieved. Upon tak- 
ing charge, General Hastings made the following appointments : 

Chiefs of Operations, Johnstown. — General D. H. Hastings, Adjutant-General of Penn- 
sylvania ; Colonel Thomas J. Hudson, Chief of Artillery, N. G. P.; Lieutenant-Colonel William 
J. Elliott, Acting Inspector-General, N. G. P. 

Department of Public Safety. — Brigadier-General Wiley, Second Brigade ; Major Sam- 
uel Hazlett, Ordnance Department, Second Brigade ; Major W. W. Greenland, Quartermaster, 
Second Brigade ; Major Frank K. Patterson, Inspector, Second Brigade ; Major Wilson F. 
Braden, Judge-Advocate, Second Brigade ; Captain George C. Hamilton, Aide-de-Camp, Second 
Brigade; Captain James H. Murdock, Aide-de-Camp, Second Brigade. 

Quartermaster's Dspartment. — Colonel S. W. Hill, Quartermaster-General of Pennsyl- 
vania ; Lieutenant-General -Thomas Patton, Assistant Quartermaster-General of Pennsylvania. 

Commissary Department. — Colonel J. Granville Leach, Commissary-General of Pennsyl- 
vania ; Lieutenant-Colonel J. S. Spangler, Assistant Commissary-General of Pennsylvania ; Cap- 
tain J. A. Loohr, of the Tenth ; Lieutenant W. H. Bean, Second United States Cavalry ; Lieu- 
tenant J. P. Albro, of the Thirteenth ; Lieutenant Charles E. Brown, of the Eighteenth. 

Bureau of Information- — Colonel John I. Rogers, Judge- Advocate-General of Pennsyl- 
vania ; Lieutenant-Colonel Henry E. Paxson, Aide-de-Camp to the Governor. 

Accounting Department. — Lieutenant-Colonel J. H. Gray, of the Governor's staff. 

Surgeon-General's Department. — Major J. B. Silliman, Surgeon, Second Brigade. 

Supply stations were opened at the two railroad depots, from which eleven 
sub-distributing stations throughout the valley received provisions and cloth- 
ing. The supplies were purchased by the Commissary-General and placed in 
charge of Major Spangler. The general supply depot at the Pennsylvania 
freight station was Post Commissary No. i, with Major Horn at its head. 
Major Singer managed Post Commissary No. 2, at the Baltimore and Ohio 
station. Under Major Horn seven district stations were established to give 
relief direct : 

Districts Nos. i and 2, Johnstown Borough, Major Mercer. 

District No. 3, Prospect Hill and Millville, Lieutenant Richardson, Ninth Regiment. 

District No. 4, Woodvale, Lieutenant Selden, Sixteenth Regiment. 

District No. 5, East Conemaugh, Lieutenant Koons, First Regiment. 

District No. 6, Franklin Borough, Lieutenant Meram, Ninth Regiment. 

District No. 7, South Fork, Lieutenant Cox, Third Regiment. 

These stations and officers were under Major Singer : 

District No. 8, Johnstown Borough, Lieutenant Baker, Sixth Regiment. 
District No. 9, Kernville and Grubtown, Major Curtis, of the Staff. 
District No. 10, Conemaugh Borough, Lieutenant Williams, Fifth Regiment. 
District No. n, Coopersdale, Lieutenant Nichols, Twelfth Regiment. 

Lieutenant Bean, of the United States regular army, was placed in 
charge of the accounts of the Commissary-General. Colonel Orr, clerk of the 
military board, with two clerks from the Adjutant-General's office, was given 
charge of the accounts of the distribution of supplies. Everything moved 
forward with military precision, and the wreckage disappeared rapidly. 

Mr. McKnight, who contracted to remove the drift above the stone bridge, 
worked from June 12th to July 6th, his force ranging from 2,200 men to 350 



UNDER MFLITARY AUTHORITY. 



283 




the last week. Twelve hoisting engines, carpenters, blacksmiths and dyna- 
miters were employed. Arthur Kirk, under the supervision of Major Phillips, 



284 THE STOR Y OF JOHNS TO WN. 

handled the explosives so skilfully that no accident occurred, although 13,800 
pounds of dynamite were used. More of the dangerous stuff was exploded 
after the State retired from the field, swelling the total to about 17,000 pounds. 
Occasionally bodies were loosened from the mud 'and wreck and blown into 
fragments, six rising two hundred feet in the air at one time. 

Colonel Joseph H. Gray, of Pittsburgh, who had charge of the State ac- 
counting department, completed his report on July iSth. He had vouchers 
for ever}' cent of money that went through the hands of the State authorities 
during the time they had charge of affairs at Johnstown. The accounts were 
opened on June 12th and closed July 8th. During that time a grand total of 
.$248,935.81 was accounted for. Of this amount, $174,761.97 was credited to 
the State department and $74,173.84 to the relief fund. The amounts paid to 
contractors for State work between June 12th and July 9th were : 

R. O'Donnell, $1,475.64 ; McLean & Co., $34,657.10; Patrick Ridge, Sg.36S.47; Colburn & 
Co., $25,745.43 ; James McKnight, $41,911.49; Charles Suppes, for cleaning cellars, 52,067. 23 ; 
J. H. Benford, $243.10. 

What with dynamite explosions at short intervals, clearing away the 
debris above the railroad bridge, the army of workmen empk>3'ed in all sorts 
of ways, the hosts of teams constantly engaged, the crowds of passengers from 
every train, the vast quantities of supplies arriving dairy and the new structures 
going up on a number of streets, Johnstown was a busy place the latter part of 
June. Vast progress had been made and many sections were almost clear of 
obstructions. Temporary stores were going up briskly and portable houses 
had begun to arrive. The acres of debris above the railroad bridge were re- 
duced to a mere shadow. Hope of a bright future for the town was gaining 
strength. The greater part of the Cambria Iron Works had started, giving em- 
ployment to thousands of men. On June 20th it looked as though a general 
suspension of work might occur. The poor fellows toiling in the dirt and rub- 
bish for the pittance of $1.50 a da}', one-third of it retained for food, com- 
plained of the scanty, ill-prepared rations furnished by the contractors. Black 
coffee and fat pork, thrown to them as if they were beasts, were not calculated 
to make men contented and industrious. They very properly demanded to be 
furnished wholesome food in sufficient quantity to keep soul and body together-: 
Six or eight hundred left for Pittsburgh, declining to strike under the sad cir- 
cumstances that brought them to town. General Hastings notified the con- 
tractors that the men must be given proper food, or he would feed them himself 
and charge the account to the parties responsible for their ill-treatment. The 
men were better treated thereafter and no farther trouble ensued. 

The Commissioners had 30,000 people to feed for two weeks, when the 
number was reduced daily. General Hastings ordered $40,000 worth of pro- 
visions from Pittsburgh the day he took charge. The regular food was similar 
to the army rations, with the addition of bread and butter and vegetables. 



, UNDER MILITARY AUTHORITY. 285 

The food was wholesome, and a supply for five days was kept on hand in case 
•of emergency. It was to be expected that some attempts to defraud the com- 
missary and get provisions and clothing by wholesale would be attempted. 
Yet the extent to which this was done astonished the officers. Families were 
known to have their houses filled with groceries and clothing sufficient to stock 
a store, although they were not touched by the flood. Farmers carried off 
loads of clothing, groceries and tools, in spite of all precautions to guard 
against fraud. Some of the districts were abandoned and others consolidated, 
as stated in this report : 

Commissary Department, 
Johnstown. Pa., June 27th, 1889. 

Brigadier-General D. H. Hastings, Adjutant-General of Pennsylvania : 

General : 1 have the honor to report that the intention to reduce the number of persons 
supplied by one-third by Wednesday evening, June 26th, has been fully carried out, though 
more thoroughly in some districts than in others. From the reports made by the different 
quartermasters yesterday, it is my intention this week to close the commissary at Morrellville, 
consolidating it with Cambria City ; to close the commissaries at Brownstown, Minersville, 
Rosedale and Coopersdale, and supply the wants of the really needy from the commissaries of 
Cambria City and Prospect Hill ; to consolidate the three commissaries at East Conemaugh, 
Franklin and Woodvale, which are much reduced in numbers to be supplied, into one station, 
to be at Franklin, where the largest center of population appears to be ; to close the sub-stations 
at Walnut Grove, Grubtown and Moxham, and supply the really needy from Johnstown and 
Kernville. 

Conemaugh Borough is the only station that does not show a reduction in its work, but 
until the report of canvassers now out and working is made, I cannot say what is to be the 
future of this station. I am promised the report to-day. I attach hereto a table, being a re- 
capitulation of the changes in the several districts, and also comparing the figures with those 
given in last report, showing that the reduction of one-third has been fully accomplished : 

Cards — Last Cards — People Sup- People Sup- 
STATIONS. Reported. June 27. plied Last. p'djune 27. 

Morrellville 504 299 2 . 6 94 '.°46 

Cambria 500 345 2,461 1,674 

Prospect Hill 432 427 3,°68 1,484 

Woodvale 179 159 861 750 

East Conemaugh 228 19 324 56 

Franklin 155 50 667 212 

Minersville 300 200 I ,4 2 5 1,000 

Rosedale 90 . . 407 50 

Johnstown 1,500 536 4.34° 3.522 

Kernville 660 291 3. 969 1,800 

Conemaugh 654 700 4.5'"o 5,131 

Totals 5,202 3,026 24.716 16,725 

The closing of several commissary stations this week and the consolidation of others 
should so reduce the work that by Monday it could be placed in the hands of the citizens to re- 
lieve the cases of actual destitution and need. All the stations cannot be closed for some time, 
for there must be many needy cared for, and a place or places retained for the reception and 
the distribution of provisions, furniture, etc., for their use. 

The changes outlined above will leave in operation six commissaries, distributed at Frank- 
lin, Conemaugh, Johnstown, Kernville, Prospect Hill and Cambria City. These will, I think, 



286 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

amply supply the wants of those whom it would be improper to cut off from supply, and they 
are in my opinion conveniently situated. 

In closing the station at East Conemaugh I lose the services of Lieut. F. P. Koons, 
Quartermaster First Regiment, N. G. P. He has proved a most valuable officer by his efficient 
services to this department, and has been the first who is able to close his commissary with the 
approbation and satisfaction of all the people concerned. 

J. L. Spangler, Lt. Col. and A. C. G. 

Later Colonel Spangler reported that about 4,000 able-bodied men were 
earning their living and supporting those dependent upon them. The Com- 
missaries were reduced to one, which was turned over to the local commit- 
tee on July 8th, Captain H. H. Kahn, who had a thorough knowledge of the 
duties, taking charge. Widows, orphans and aged sufferers were furnished 
supplies, but the issuing of unlimited rations ceased, and persons able to work 
had to reply upon their own resources. 

The Philadelphia firemen, who relieved the Pittsburgh fire companies the 
middle of June, returned home on July 9th. They left their four engines and 
1,500 feet of hose in care of the local fire department. The machines were to 
remain until the authorities could purchase new ones. "Chal. " L. Dick or- 
ganized a fire department of four companies, composed principally of mem- 
bers of the old volunteers, whose buildings and apparatus were destroj'ed. 
They managed the four Philadelphia engines, which were antiquated ma- 
chines that would not throw a stream over a three-story house. 

A system of registry was devised, which contemplated recording the names 
and addresses of all survivors. Clerks worked for weeks and about fifteen 
thousand residents were enrolled. Hundreds paid no attention to it, conse- 
quently the plan was not completely successful. The Citizens' Committee dis. 
tributed $150,000 on July 8th and gth, at the rate of $10 apiece, to the sufferers 
who had registered. On Tuesday, July 8th, contrary to the wishes of the 
best elements in the community, the Court permitted the saloons to resume 
liquor selling, for the first time since the disaster. As the result, a host of board 
shanties were erected on Washington street for the sale of beer and whiskey. 
These holes were so liberally patronized that the lock-up was packed with 
drunken men before dark. Disorder and riot reigned to such a degree that 
decent folks feared to be seen on the streets at night. Hardy men, paid off on 
Monday and Tuesday, spent their earnings for the vile fluids dealt out in these 
improvised bar-rooms. General Hastings sent a manly protest to Judge Johns- 
ton, but the permission was not revoked and the spirit of disorder raged all 
week. Many a poor victim of a debased appetite, who received $10 the begin- 
ning of the week from the funds distributed then, put the last cent into the in- 
flammable stuff that roused the worst passions. The opening of these places 
was the greatest calamity that could have occurred, as there were still hundreds 
of men at work, and the borough was not in a flurry to engage an army of 
police ! Crowds of loafers kept up a perpetual disturbance. The majority did 



UNDER MILITARY AUTHORITY. 287 

not belong to the town, but were working for the contractors or trying to live 
by their wits. Not the shadow of an excuse could be urged for the opening of 
these saloons, which furnished neither food nor lodging. It would have been 
a signal blessing to have prohibited the sale of liquor sixty days longer, by 
which time the bulk of the strangers would have disappeared and the inhab- 
itants would have settled down in a great measure to their regular avocations. 
The State Board of Health was not idle. A house-to-house inspection was 
pushed vigorously by ten medical directors and twenty-five assistants, with Dr. 
Matthews at their head. On June 18th Dr. J. E. Sillman, chief of the medical 
staff, directed his assistants to consolidate all the morgues and place them in 
charge of Undertaker Henderson. Buildings, streets, water-closets, cellars 
and heaps of decaying refuse were disinfected A good deal of sickness, 
usually of a malarial type, prevailed and death was very busy the fourth week 
of June. Fifty laborers were attacked with typhoid fever in one day, but re- 
covered rapidly under careful medical treatment. Considering the muggy 
weather, the stenches that could not be abated and the putrid bodies in cellars 
still untouched, it was marvelous that anybody continued well. The resident 
doctors complained to General Hastings of encroachments upon their rights 
by foreign physicians, who swarmed to the stricken district and endeavored to 
build up permanent practices for themselves. The complainants stated that, 
although they lost all their property by the flood, they were willing to attend 
the sick free of charge. Their complaints were also directed against societies 
which they alleged were fond of interfering. The General promised whatever 
aid he could give in re-establishing the physicians in their business, and the 
ripple passed over. The State Board closed its valuable labors in October, as 
shown in Dr. Lee's final report : 

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 

State Board of Health, 
Johnstown, October iot/1, iSSg. 
To His Excellency, James A. Beaver, Governor of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. 

Sir : On the seventh day of June, 1889, I had the honor to address your excellency a com- 
munication in which I reported an inspection of Johnstown and the neighboring boroughs and 
the Conemaugh and Kiskiminetas valleys, which had been visited by a devastating flood. Based 
upon this inspection, I, at the same time, made official declaration, in the name of the State 
Board of Health, of the existence of a nuisance prejudicial to the public health in these valleys, 
and called upon your excellency, in view of the extent of this nuisance and of the entire in- 
ability of the local authorities to cope with the emergency, to "at once employ such force as 
might be necessary to remove and abate the same." 

I have now the honor to report that this work has been brought to a successful termi- 
nation. 

In response to the above-noted declaration and request, a large force of laborers was im- 
mediately placed at my disposal, under the command of Adjutant-General Hastings, with 
Colonel H. T. Douglass as Chief Engineer. At a subsequent period General Hastings' official 
duties called him elsewhere, the force was considerably reduced, and Captain George C. Ham- 



288 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWX. 

ilton assumed control of operations. I desire here to acknowledge the untiring zeal and energy 
displayed by these officers in the discharge of their arduous and responsible duties, the uniform 
courtesy with which my instructions were received, and the fidelity with which they were car- 
ried out. The work which has been accomplished may be briefly summed up : 

The rivers have been scrupulously patrolled from the State line on the Ohio to South Fork 
on the Conemaugh, a distance of not less than 120 miles, with the result of recovering hundreds 
of bodies and destroying large numbers of carcasses. The immense masses of wreckage under 
which Johnstown was buried have been entirely removed, and numerous dead bodies of human 
beings and animals thus extricated, disinfectants having been freely used to prevent these from 
becoming a source of disease while still out of reach of the laborers. 

Many miles of streets have been excavated, and tens of thousands of tons of earth carted 
away from private properties and cellars in order to remove the filth with which it was sat- 
urated. An idea of the extent of this labor may be gained when it is stated that an area of sev- 
eral acres on which this earth was dumped has been raised fifteen feet above the previous level. 
Disinfectants were also lavishly used during the prosecution of this difficult and dangerous 
work. In fact, but for the constant and unsparing application of these agents, the only resource 
would have been a general conflagration. Hundreds of wrecked buildings which harbored filth 
or were dangerously insecure have been torn down and removed. The vast and densely packed 
drift at the stone bridge has been rent asunder by dynamite and dragged out, with the result of 
removing much putrescent matter which was polluting the stream. Substantial bridges have 
been built to afford an opportunity for the transportation of filth and wreckage. The mouths 
of all the sewers have been opened, and the channels of the rivers freed from impediments to 
the ready escape of sewage. The heated term which was so much dreaded has passed with but 
little serious illness, and the advent of frost brings increased security. 

.Whatever of imperative sanitary work remains to be done is now quite within the means of 
the residents, who, encouraged by the generous aid and sympathy which has been extended to 
them from all parts of the civilized world, are now resuming the responsibilities of citizenship. 

I, therefore, in the name of the State Board of Health, declare the nuisance in this district 
removed and abated, and request that the State forces be withdrawn from and after Saturday, 
the twelfth day of October. I have the honor to be your excellency's most obedient servant. 

Benjamin Lee, 
Secretary and Executive Officer State Board of Health of Pennsylvania. 

An application to the President of the United States for pontoon bridges, 
to be used in crossing Stony Creek, was granted, boats used at Harper's 
Ferry during the war coming from Washington for the purpose. They were 
moored under the direction of army officers, furnishing a convenient passage un- 
til a frame bridge could be constructed. Portable houses were likewise pur- 
chased in Chicago, General Hastings announcing on June 20th that the State 
Commission would provide five hundred of these buildings. They cost $100 
each, and were one-roomed affairs. The first one arrived on June 25th and 
was erected near the Baltimore & Ohio depot. It was a shed-like structure, 
with about as few points of architectural beauty as the coal-house of a country 
school. The people revolted against the " Oklahomas," which had neither 
ceiling, partition, chimney, lining, nor plaster. They were not as warm as an 
"A" tent, and not half as roomy. Still these were the kind of buildings in 
which it was proposed to domicile the families of the houseless sufferers of the 
devastated valley. General Hastings heard the first murmurs of discontent with 



UNDER MILITARY AUTHORITY. 289 

respectful incredulity, but as soon as he saw the shell he took occasion to ex- 
press himself in the strongest terms. The houses were in no sense what he 
expected them to be or what they had been represented to him, and he would 
do all in his power to get substantial buildings. Master-Carpenter Hughes 
would build four-roomed, two-story buildings for the same money, and larger 
ones in proportion, of hemlock. These would be durable and comfortable, 
and would last till the occupants should be able to erect their own houses 
again — be that six months or three years hence. At a meeting of the busi- 
ness men, called by him in the freight-house of the Pennsylvania railroad on 
June 1 2th, the General had said : 

" The best thing for the business people of this place to do is to begin to look towards the 
resumption of business. To give the thought in my mind practical shape, if there are among 
you business men here assembled any who desire to start business, and who will indicate to me 
what will be necessary to assist you to that end, I will communicate with the proper people to 
see if we can't get you what you need to put you on your feet again. We have all the relief 
necessary. There is no need of a man to go mealless. If any one goes to bed hungry or 
shelterless, it is his own fault. The organization we have now to supply food and clothing is 
as nearly perfect as we can make it. The troops will not interfere with your local government. 
We want you to open your municipal government and your town council, appoint your own 
police and go about your daily occupations as you did before. There is no martial, no military 
law. We have only the troops here necessary to keep the vandals out. 

" I understand that you are all merchants. If you are willing to go back again and resume 
business I would like to know it, and I will call upon certain parties in the East to furnish to 
you the lumber and the building material necessary to put up at least temporary structures in 
which to begin business over again. Although I have no positive assurances to give you to this 
effect, I believe that we can get you the needed building material very shortly. I don't think 
you want to be still and wait until some regular distribution of assistance is made. If you can 
get the lumber to put up your places of business, the merchants will come to you and will pro- 
vide you with stock. The lumber is entirely gratis. I will communicate with people who will ■ 
send train-loads of lumber here as rapidly as they can be transported." 

Resolutions approving of these suggestions were adopted, after various 
gentlemen had endorsed them heartily. Trains of lumber were ordered, and 
soon four hundred of the two-story frames supplied satisfactory quarters for 
numerous stores, offices and residences. A meeting on June 29th took strong 
ground in favor of consolidating the cluster of boroughs into one city organi- 
zation. Temporary buildings were springing up, and many places of - business 
had been opened by that date. The Cambria Iron Works were employing 
3,000 men and the applications for relief had diminished greatly. The mass 
of debris above the railroad bridge, thanks to a tireless energy and a liberal 
use of dynamite, had almost vanished. The spirit of the people was one of 
calm resignation and increasing hopefulness. 

Five hundred and fifty was the highest number of troops in Johnstown 
at once. The largeness of this force evoked much adverse criticism and en- 
tailed a heavy outlay for maintenance. The pay ranged as follows : 

Captains, $5 per day ; Lieutenants, $4.63 ; Second Lieutenants, $4.17 ; Orderly Sergeants, 



290 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN.^ 

$2.50, and 25 cents for each service stripe ; Sergeants, $2, and 25 cents for each stripe ; Corpor- 
als, $1.75, and 25 cents for each stripe ; Privates, $1.50. 

Four hundred of these soldiers were relieved on June 28th, leaving for 
Pittsburgh the next afternoon. They were all members of the Fourteenth 
regiment. Companies C, F, and I were retained to assist the local police 
authorities. Details from each of the other companies in the regiment were 
assigned to the companies remaining, in order to give them their full quota, 
thus making the number left for further duty about 150, in addition to company 
H of Johnstown. The Fourteenth regiment was on duty twenty-six days. 
The company receiving the largest amount of money was K — $2,779.06 ; the 
company receiving the smallest amount, G. Company K is one of the crack 
companies of the regiment, and on dress parade was greeted with special evi- 
dence of recognition by the spectators. Speaking of their departure the 
Johnstown Tribune remarked : 

"It is simply a recognition of duty faithfully discharged to say that the militiamen who 
have been here since the flood have, as a body, behaved themselves in a soldiery manner, and 
have rendered us a great service, which we duly appreciate." 

Private Young, of company C, upon being relieved from duty on June 
10th went into his tent, put the muzzle of his musket in his mouth and blew 
the side of his head off. This suicide was the only military fatality during the 
occupation of Johnstown by the National Guard. 

That so little friction occurred between the military and the civil authori- 
ties was remarkable. On one occasion General Hastings ordered the picket 
out on the high embankment near the freight depot, where every person must 
pass to reach the temporary bridge back of the company store. Captain 
' Hamilton was detailed with a suitable guard. All who came without 
General Hastings' pass in the morning were turned aside. In the after- 
noon a new difficulty was encountered. When you flashed your military pass 
on the sentinel who called " Halt ! " he would throw his gun slantwise across 
your body, so that the butt grazed your right hip and the bayonet your left 
ear, and say, "No good unless signed by the Sheriff." The civil authorities 
had taken the bridge out of the hands of the militia, and the Sheriff sat on a 
camp-stool overlooking the desolate city all forenoon, making out passes and 
approving the General's. The military men said there was no conflict of au- 
thority, and it was deemed proper that the civil authorities should still con- 
trol the pass there. The Sheriff looked calm and serene. Some begged him 
for passes to hunt for their dead. One man cried: "I've just gotten here, 
and my wife and children are in that town;" another said: "I belong to 
Conemaugh and was carried off by the flood," while an aged men behind him 
whispered: "Sheriff, I just want to look where the old home stood." When 
four peaceful-faced Sisters in convent garb, on their mission of mercy, came 
that way the sentinels stood back a pace and no voice ordered " Halt ! " 



UNDER MILITARY AUTHORITY. 291 

The Transportation Department, whose headquarters were in one of the 
first tents along Conemaugh street, was one of the busiest. About 5,000 passes 
were issued in two weeks. The first week 1,600 were made out and 3,400 the 
second. These passes were granted to all who suffered by the flood. Inas- 
much as the expenses had to be taken from the relief fund, the officials exer- 
cised great caution, requiring identification and answers to questions, which in 
some cases were responded to by insult. The officers never desisted in their 
efforts to avoid issuing papers to the undeserving. The tickets, some of which 
were to New Mexico, Texas, Massachusetts, Oregon, and almost all points in 
the United States, were good only to the terminals of the Pennsylvania and 
Baltimore & Ohio railroads. Upon reaching these, the passes were extended 
by other roads to the destination as noted by the Transportation Department. 
The departure of such numbers caused a scarcity of skilled labor, so that, for 
the first time in its history, the Cambria Iron Company could not hire sufficient 
help at the beginning of July to hurry forward the Gautier mills and run the 
furnaces to their regular capacity. 

On Monday, July 8th, the State virtually retired from the field, General 
Hastings leaving next day for his home at Bellefonte, whence he started for the 
military encampment at Mt. Gretna. Accounts had been settled with all the 
contractors except McKnight, who arranged for another week in which to ad- 
just differences between his and the State's time-keepers. McLean & Co. 
were empowered to continue the work of renovating alle3's, lots and cellars, and 
a company of troops was retained a while longer. What had been accom- 
plished by the State, and the condition of affairs at the close of the military 
domination, Mr. Harry Keller, Chief of the Bureau of Information, set forth in 
his final report : 

Johnstown, Pa. , July 8, iSSg. 
Brigadier-General D. H. Hastings, Adjutant-General of Pennsylvania : 

General : I have the honor to make the following report of the work done by the Bureau 
of Information since the departure of Colonel John I. Rogers, by whom it was organized, and 
the method of procedure under which we have attained the gratifying results desired. It is 
intended to be merely supplemental to the very full and complete report made by him. 

The main work required of the Bureau of Information was the answering of letters from 
outside persons who had friends or relatives in Johnstown and the vicinity, and who naturally 
felt deeply interested as to whether or not these friends or relatives had escaped the dire dis- 
aster. In order to answer these inquiries with any degree of intelligence, it was found necessary 
to make as complete a registration of the living, and record of the dead and missing, as was 
possible. 

Mr. James B. Scott, of Pittsburgh, very kindly allowed us the privilege of retaining his 
rolls several weeks, in order that we might make copies of the same, which was done in the fol- 
lowing manner : The names of the living, registered, were written on slips of paper, the dupli- 
cates thrown out, and the remainder then compiled alphabetically and transferred to a record 
book, sufficient space being left between the names to insert those that might afterwards be 
added. The different hospital lists were obtained, the names of those that were cared for at 



292 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

any time by the Ladies' Aid Society of Pittsburgh were gathered, and, in addition, men were 
sent out who have thoroughly canvassed Prospect Borough, Conemaugh, East Conemaugh, 
Franklin, Millville, Cambria and Morrellville, going from house to house and taking the names 
of all who had not previously registered. These names have been compiled in the same manner 
as the proceeding, and are being constantly added to the record. 

It was found impossible to make a canvass of the greater part of Johnstown and Woodvale, 
for the reason that these places were almost entirely swept away ; but it appears from our books 
that nearly all those formerly living there that are safe have registered of their own accord. 

The Seventh ward of Johnstown and the adjacent township, together with the villages of 
Brownstown, Rosedale, Coopersdale, Moxham and Walnut Grove, containing in all about four 
thousand seven hundred, suffered comparatively little loss of life, and have not, as yet, under- 
gone a house-to-house canvass, but a fair estimate of the number registered from these districts 
would place it in the neighborhood of two thousand. This would leave somewhat over two 
thousand five hundred names to be added. 

Our list at present embraces about twenty-two thousand names, six thousand of which have 
not yet been transferred from the compiled slips to the book. I would suggest that Mr. H. A.' 
French, who has been doing the transcribing, be allowed to finish it, if such an arrangement 
can possibly be made. 

As recommended by Colonel Rogers, Mr. C. B. Clark, of Altoona, who has just completed 
a directory of Johnstown, the use of the only copy of which the Bureau has had, was retained. 
His knowledge of the names and aptness in compilation have been of great service. If Mr. 
Clark can be induced to remain, he and Mr. French can easily answer all inquiries, and at the 
same time complete the registry by the addition of the few names that have been omitted. 

In computing the list of the dead, we have taken the daily morgue reports and copied the 
names into a record book, arranging them alphabetically when the bodies have been identified, 
and with reference to morgues when otherwise. Thus far the morgues have reported 969 iden- 
tified and 689 unidentified bodies, a total of 1,658, distributed as follows : 

Grand View Chapel 19 

Fourth-Ward School House- 33S 

Presbyterian Church 82 

Kernville 13S 

Peelorville 20 

St. Columba, Cambria . 176 

Minersville 51 

Morrellville 1S9 

Nineveh, Westmoreland side 189 

Nineveh, Indiana side 25 

Franklin 18 

Mineral Point 15 

Pennsylvania Railroad Station 107 

Millville 291 

Total 1,65s 

In addition to this total of 1,658 bodies taken to the morgues, our canvass has brought out 
the names of 421 more that certainly perished, but whose bodies have not been recovered, 
making a grand total of 2,079 persons known to be lost. 

There have been since June 12th 1,073 inquiries of all descriptions, every one of which has 
been answered. If the name of a person sought for could not be found on either of our lists, 
a messenger was sent out to discover, if possible, some trace of him. In this way a definite 
answer could be given to at least 75 per cent, of the communications received. 

- In closing, I wish to express my high appreciation of the kindly feeling and hearty co-oper- 
ation of my associates in the Bureau — Messrs. H. A. French, Charles B. Clark, Irvin Rutledge, 



UNDER MILITARY AUTHORITY. 293 

Jr., A. R. Parkeson, W. H. Keller, S. S. Fluke and George B. Johnston — and to sincerely thank 
you on their behalf and my own for the very courteous treatment we have always received at 
your hands. I have the honor to be your most obedient servant, 

Harry Keller, 
Chief of the Bureau of Information. 

The retirement of General Hastings from the chief management was sig- 
nalized by many tributes of well-earned esteem. The citizens he had served 
faithfully held a public meeting, at which eulogistic addresses were made and 
complimentary resolutions passed. An influential delegation presented these 
resolutions on Monday evening. The workmen and the soldiers united in ex- 
pressions of appreciation, which were suitably acknowledged. It is due Gen- 
eral Hastings to say that he discharged his responsible, delicate duties to the 
satisfaction alike of the people of Johnstown and all interested in seeing that 
the money appropriated by the State was used to the best advantage. He 
moved about the district without any fuss or pretension, wearing coarse 
boots, a flannel shirt, a cutaway coat and- a slouch hat. The night after his 
arrival somebody appropriated the white shirt he had worn during the day. 
This theft compelled the Adjutant-General to go without a shirt over his under- 
wear for several days, as defects in wardrobes could not be supplied at Johns- 
town just then. If half the stories told about some of the wearers of the blue 
were true, a court-martial would have struck a rich field investigating the con- 
duct of the alleged transgressors. But of the great majority only good words 
can be spoken. Writing on this subject soon after the State assumed control, 
a Philadelphia journalist, who spent weeks in the district, remarked : 

"With the taking of the reins of authority by the State and the concentration of responsi- 
bility in Adjutant-General Hastings, the condition of Johnstown, deplorable as it has been and 
sad as it continues, presents a more hopeful view. In such an emergency there has to be 
authority concentrated somewhere and it should be authority that has support General Hast- 
ings has it. He also has the public confidence as a just arbitrator and prudent executive. If 
General Hastings had more men around him as competent to execute his directions as he is 
competent to give them, it would not take Johnstown long to revive. The trouble is, that with 
the exception of a very few earnest men who appreciate the situation, he is surrounded by a set 
of uniformed and soldier-strapped dawdlers and incompetents who appear to regard the occa- 
sion as a frolic. The feelings of the citizens of Johnstown who remain is not in sympathy 
with the exercise of such extensive powers by a military force and corps of officers quartered 
in the town. Of its protective value all agree. As to whether the soldiers are the best dis- 
tributors of relief to the women and young girls who are almost the only applicants (the men 
being too independent to ask aid when there is work), there is a difference of opinion." 

Opinions did differ as to the propriety of having five or six hundred sol- 
diers on the ground at any time. Cool-headed people argued that General 
Hastings and twenty or thirty capable assistants would have been ample — in 
conjunction with the local authorities — to preserve the peace and supervise the 
work of the contractors. They asserted that a lot of the military entertained 
the idea that they were out on a lark. Their airs were insufferable, their be- 



294 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

haviour was scandalous, and some of the officers were harder to approach than 
the Czar of Russia. The plea that the presence of several thousand laborers 
rendered troops necessary was untenable. Why not, for the same reason, 
have the militia on dut} 7 whenever and wherever large forces of laborers are 
employed ? While certainly exceptional, were the conditions at Johnstown such 
as to be improved by hundreds of young fellows, whose chief business was to 
flourish a gun at ever}' individual who came in sight ? Would not a hundred 
gallant firemen, ready to take off their coats and search in the ruins for the 
dead, have been of greater value than five times that number of youths in uni- 
forms ? Is it likely that an outbreak would have occurred that the citizens 
could not suppress, had no wearer of a blue coat set foot within twenty leagues 
of Johnstown ? Were not the three or four days immediately following the 
flood the most critical period in the history of the community, and no armed 
troops nearer than Pittsburgh ? If the State must furnish soldiers to camp in 
the street and guard a private bank night and day, because from three hundred 
to three thousand men are clearing up heaps of rubbish in a town, why not 
have them constantly on guard in cities where large bodies of laborers are sim- 
ilarly engaged ? These were the views expressed and the questions asked by 
many intelligent citizens, lovers of law and order, who had an abiding faith in 
the good judgment of the masses and were not willing to have the world think 
Johnstown would have been a Pandemonium, given over to riot and rapine, 
but for the restraining influence of the Pittsburgh military. What weight they 
possess, if any, let each reader determine. 

General Hastings won unstinted praise for his excellent management. 
He governed with admirable tact and rare discretion. Firm without harsh- 
ness, he maintained proper discipline and enforced the law in a manner that 
commanded respect. A man of imposing presence, tall and stoutly built, he 
has the erect bearing of a born soldier, and would compel attention in any 
crowd. His geniality is contagious, rendering him a prime favorite socially. 
A friend has written this biographical sketch : 

' ' Daniel Hartman Hastings, Adjutant-General of the State of Pennsylvania, was born at 
Salona, Clinton County, Pa., February 26th, 1849, of Scotch-Irish descent. His father was 
a native of Ireland and came to this country in 1839. His mother was born in Scotland and 
came to America in 1829. General Hastings' rudimentary education was obtained entirely in 
the public schools. He never attended an academy or college. His time, until he was four- 
teen years of age, was spent on a farm and attending school. At that age he began teaching 
school during the winter months, working on the farm in the summer until 1867, when he was 
elected principal of the Bellefonte public schools, and continued to serve in that position until 
1875. During this time he took a course of studies similar to a regular college course, covering 
several years, and was associate editor of the Bellefonte Republican. He also read law with the 
firm of Bush & Yocum, was admitted to the Bar in the spring of 1875 and immediately entered 
into partnership with his preceptors under the firm name of Bush, Yocum & Hastings. In 1876, 
Colonel Bush retired from the firm, which was continued as Yocum & Hastings until 1878, 
when Mr. Yocum was elected to Congress and the partnership was dissolved. General Hastings 



UNDER MILITARY AUTHORITY. 295 

formed a partnership with Wilbur F. Reeder, which still continues. The General is in active 
practice, but gives considerable time to his interests in the coal and coke business, which are 
quite extensive. 

" General Hastings, who has always given attention to the public welfare, filled the position 
of Chief Burgess of Bellefonte in 1876, was at one time a School Director of the borough, and 
is at present a trustee of the Pennsylvania State College. He has always been a Republican 
in politics, and has been a delegate at every State Convention for the last ten years. 
Latterly he has been much in demand on the stump in this and other states in the 
various political campaigns. He made the nominating speech in the State Convention of 1886 
which placed Governor Beaver's name before that body, and during the canvass that followed, 
devoted his best energies on the hustings to effect that gentleman's election. He was nominated 
for delegate-at-large tc the National Convention held in Chicago in 1888, receiving the highest 
vote of any of the delegates. He presented the name of Senator John Sherman, of Ohio, be- 
fore that body, in a speech conceded to have been the ablest and most eloquent during the con- 
vention. In the ensuing campaign he was on the stump for three months continuously. 

' ' General Hastings was but twelve years old when the War of the Rebellion broke out. In 
1863 he ran away from home to join the army and was brought back by his father. He again 
made an effort to enlist in 1864, but without success, and also in the early part of 1865, the last 
time getting as far as Harrisburg. Each time he was brought home by his father, who considered 
him too young to endure the hardships of the service, and interposed his authority against the 
youth's patriotic impulses. He always had a taste and inclination for military affairs. In 1S77, 
during the prevalence of the labor riots, he tendered his services to Governor Beaver, then com- 
manding a brigade of the National Guard of the State, and accompanied him to Altoona, re- 
maining with him until the end of the disturbance. He was appointed captain and paymaster 
of the Fifth Regiment, N. G. P., in July, 1877, and continued in that position until March 22, 
1S78, when he was elected Lieutenant-Colonel of the regiment. On March 22, 1880, he was 
appointed Assistant Adjutant-General by General Beaver, who was in command of the Second 
Brigade. On June 11, 1883, after General Beaver's reappointment, he was again appointed As- 
sistant Adjutant-General of the Second Brigade. On March 28, 1884, he was elected Colonel 
of the Fifth Regiment, which he command until January 18, 1887, when he was appointed Ad- 
jutant-General of the State by Governor Beaver. Under his command the regiment took the 
highest rank in the National Guard of the State for organization and perfection of drill and 
equipment. 

"General Hastings has delivered numerous addresses before societies and at college com- 
mencements, besides political speeches at conventions and on the stump. As an orator he is 
very effective, with a rich voice and the clearest enunciation. He has the most forceful use of 
expressive language, tells a story well, and reinforces his arguments with the keenest satire, 
whenever that can be well employed. He has risen rapidly in the past few years, because he 
deserved to. He has fully and capably met every emergency of his life. He has not only filled, 
but he has increased the .importance of every position he has held. His work as Adjutant- 
General has been masterly in all respects. The National Guard under his hand has been 
brought to a higher degree of perfection than was thought possible a few years ago, and he has 
done it by intelligent and ceaseless effort, by untiring devotion to duty. 

" He was married October 10, 1877, to Miss Jane Armstrong Rankin, of Bellefonte. They 
have one child, a daughter, born in 1879. Some idea of the character of General Hastings may 
be gathered from his experience on that Saturday night when the flood still covered most of 
Johnstown, and there was no better place to sleep than the signal-tower at the railroad station 
on the Pennsylvania Railroad. It was only a little box, high above the tracks. General 
Hastings, with two or three newspaper men, slept on the floor, in true military equality and 
good-fellowship, and thought nothing of his own inconvenience and privations while there was 



296 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

so much distress around him. In the morning, stiff and sore from lying upon the hard boards 
he arose and sent over to a house that stood upon the hill for some breakfast that he had 
ordered for himself and companions the night before. The breakfast was sent over, and the 
soldier and his friends were just about to fall to when several other newspaper correspondents 
came up. "Without a word the General passed around the viands as far as they would go, get- 
ting for his own share one small biscuit. A number of strangers came up into the signal office 
to see him during the forenoon, and he gave his advice and judgment freely to all, together with 
such food as he could get. How he repeatedly gave up his own dinner or supper to some suf- 
ferer to whom his heart went out in pity, all Johnstown can tell. The world knows of his self- 
denial and his unwearied service in the devastated region, and what a burst of gratitude ascends 
from the Conemaugh Valley whenever his name is mentioned." 

The State, under the competent management of General Hastings, did 
splendid work. The local authorities took charge on June 10, when McLean 
& Co. put five hundred men at work. The huge logs along the bank of the 
river, which efforts were made to burn, had to be blown to pieces and floated 
down the Conemaugh. Gangs of workmen were set to clear yards and alleys, 
burning rubbish that would burn and hauling dirt off to low grounds. The last 
vestige of the mass of earth and refuse in front of the company store was 
carted off the day the State retired, so that Washington street was free of 
debris from end to end. 

The total expenditure by the State in clearing up the town was barely 
§400,000, work ceasing finally the latter part of September. Governor Beaver 
could desire no stronger vindication of his sagacity in refusing to summon the 
Legislature than these figures present. His commendable prudence saved 
the treasury one or two millions of dollars, a good deal of which, for all the 
benefit it would confer; might as well have been thrown in the fire. "He 
laughs best who laughs last," and the Governor of Pennsylvania can afford to 
smile at the discomfiture of the advocates of an extra session. Pittsburgh also 
expended §250,000 in clearing the wreckage. 

Considerable talk was heard relative to deepening and widening the 
stream, but the State had no jurisdiction and could not undertake the project. 
Heavy rains on July 2d washed away the temporary bridges and inundated 
Cambria City, emphasizing the great need of such an improvement as a pro- 
tection against floods in the future. On December 14th the bridges were 
again carried off. General Hastings advised an application to Congress to 
dredge the Conemaugh and Stony Creek. The citizens, acting upon the re- 
commendation, requested Samuel L. Smedley, chief engineer and surveyor of 
Philadelphia, to make a careful survey of the creeks. Mr. Smedley did so, and 
the result of his examination will be forwarded to Washington with an appeal 
for an appropriation. Inasmuch as Congress made appropriations to relieve 
the sufferers from the Charleston earthquake, the yellow-fever sufferers in 
Florida and for other great calamities, the Johnstown people feel sure they 
will receive the assistance they demand. It is estimated that $500,000 will 
make the proposed change. 



XXI. 



MAGNIFICENT BENEVOLENCE. ' 

The World's Response to the Appeal for Aid — Civilized Nations Hasten to Suc- 
cor the Distressed — Cities, Towns and Individuals Pour in Contributions — 
Many Notable Offerings — Associations, Societies and Churches Splendidly Rep- 
resented — Generous Erin's Greeting — Food, Clothing and Shelter in Abun- 
dance — Noble Women Who were Ministering Angels — A Stream of Charity 
Grand and Resistless as Niagara Itself. 



' I hold that Christian grace abounds 
Where charity is seen ; that when 
We climb to heaven, 'tis on the rounds 
Of love to men." — Alice Cary. 




S THE BOW of promise gilded the Oriental sky after 
the Noachian deluge, so the dark cloud enfolding 
the Conemaugh Valley had a ray of brightest sun- 
light. A great, grand, glorious tide of sympathy 
for the sufferers swept the land like a conflagration, 
warming men's hearts to deeds of radiant lustre. 
The whole civilized world hastened to succor those 
so much in need of aid. Johnstown wanted every, 
thing — food, clothing, shelter for the living — coffins and burial 
for the dead. Never was assistance given more largely and 
ungrudgingly. Charitable people began to raise money, 
clothes' and provisions on Saturday morning. These were 
poured into the stricken district with the utmost celerity. 
The superb response to the appeal for relief extended to the 
ends of the earth, coming with good cheer fast as electricity 
could flash its splendid benefactions. Trains and cars laden 
with generous offerings were given the preference ever}'where. 
Cities, towns, villages and individuals from Florida to Alaska, in Europe 



charity's helping 

HAND. 



3 oo THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWX. 

and in Asia, vied in earnest rivalry to assist the afflicted souls bowed 
down with anguish and poverty. Noble ladies — God bless them ! — came on 
beneficent missions — to soothe the mourning, to minister to the distressed 
and to offer homes to orphan children. Committees represented scores of 
communities, each anxious to alleviate in some measure the untold misery the 
flood had sowed broadcast. The Grand Army of the Republic, the Young 
Men's Christian Association, the secret societies and the churches established 
headquarters to deal out requisite articles to all applicants. The stream of 
benevolence was resistless as the flood which called it into being. 

It was a most significant, touching spectacle to behold long rows of people 
waiting around the supply-stations with their baskets, to be served meat, pota- 
toes, vegetables, bread, or whatever food might be available. The great ma- 
jority were women and children, scarcely one of whom had not lost friends. 
Many were the wives and daughters of merchants and laborers who had gone 
down in the ang^ wave. Some were the sole survivors of their families. 
Very few had any other clothes than they wore when their houses were washed 
away. They stood for hours in the rain without any protection, soaked with 
the drizzle, squalid and utterly forlorn — a sight to move a heart of stone. 
The)' did not talk to one another as women generally do, even when they are 
not acquainted. The)' got no words of sympathy from any one and they gave 
none. Not a word was spoken along the whole line at first. They simply 
stood and waited. Inside each warehouse a score of volunteers and policemen 
broke open the boxes and piled the goods in separate heaps. The women's 
clothing, the men's, the children's and the different sizes were placed in 
regular order. The barriers were opened and the crowd surged in like depos- 
itors making a run on a savings bank. Good order was kept and the assist- 
ants doled out the goods to all. Special orders called for stoves, mattresses 
and blankets. Could the donors but have had a glimpse at the faces of the 
people they were helping, before and after they passed the distribution win- 
dows, they would feel repaid for their sympathy. 

It was a sight to send a glow through the inmost soul when two miles of 
cars, laden with food and supplies of every description, stretched on the 
tracks of the Pennsj'lvania Railroad from the stone bridge away beyond 
Morrellville. Hundreds more cars were coming over the Baltimore & Ohio, 
until the sufferers felt that the universe had been profoundly stirred by their 
misfortunes. Yet it was inevitable that this unparalleled charity should be 
abused at the outset. A few wretches from the townships filled their cellars 
with goods obtained on false pretenses, and rich farmers drove off with wagon- 
loads of plunder derived from the same source. But the contributors can rest 
satisfied with the general result. Had they only seen, as the writer saw, 
the vast amount of good their offerings have done, they would feel a strange 



MAGNIFICENT BENEVOLENCE. 301 

happiness in their inmost soul, and thank Heaven for the privilege of helping 
comfort and support the survivors of the Johnstown disaster. 

Governors of States issued proclamations calling upon the citizens for 
prompt, liberal contributions. The answer was an inundation of benevolence, 
a torrent of unstinted charity. Among the earliest responses was one from 
Jacksonville, telegraphing a handsome sum. Still suffering from the effects of 
the dreadful scourge which nearly converted her into a barren waste, the 
Florida town remembered how Pennsylvania hurried to her assistance in the 
fall of 1888. Governor Waterman, of California, sent a dispatch before an 
appeal was issued, offering any assistance and authorizing the payment of a 
draft on the broad-guage model of the great-hearted Pacific coast. The 
$60,000 raised in Pittsburgh in one hour on Saturday afternoon swelled to 
$101,000 ere the sun went down behind the lofty hills, which shrank to 
pigmy heights beside the mountain of charity. The mighty pulse of New 
York beat quick and strong in showering gifts worthy the wealth and pres- 
tige of the metropolis. Philadelphia displayed brotherly love that crowned 
the Quaker City with unfading laurels. Chicago, not unmindful of her own 
days of trial, reached forth a hand teeming with the choicest products of her 
markets and granaries and storehouses. The outflow towards the desolated 
region embraced all sections, religions, classes and conditions. The thou- 
sands given by the rich were jostled \>y the dimes and pennies of the poor. 
No place or person on this wide continent was too obscure to miss the infec- 
tion of enthusiasm which made the nation one vast wave of charity emptying 
its offerings into the lap of desolated Johnstown. 

Each hour added to the magnitude and grandeur of the soul-inspiring 
movement. Washington touched the key-note at a mass-meeting, with Presi- 
dent Harrison in the chair, which ranked among the notable gatherings of the 
age. The papers overflowed with paragraphs of this pleasant sort : 

" Not more than a dozen able-bodied men are to be found on Tunnel Hill, Gallitzin, almost 
the entire male population being at work helping clear up the wreck in Johnstown." 

" Brocton, Mass., contributed $975 toward the Johnstown sufferers at a meeting held on 
June 6th. The list was headed by $500 from a shoe manufacturer." 

"New Lisbon, O., sent to Johnstown $757 ; East Palestine over $400, while Salem sent 
$2,000 in money and as much more in clothing and provisions." 

"A. M. Swartz, Joseph Gallagher, E. P. Evans, W. P. Patton and F. C. Horner, of the 
Carpenters' Brotherhood, Pittsburgh, went to Johnstown to look after the needs of twenty-six 
members who are among the sufferers. The committee will distribute about $1,000." 

"Mrs. Marvin, of Pittsburgh, was in Johnstown on June 20th to establish a Holly-Tree 
coffee-house. General Hastings gave her the permission she desired. A cup of coffee and 
bread and butter will be supplied to all on the same plan and terms as those prevailing in Pitts- 
burgh and Allegheny, which are very liberal." 

" E. M. Chapin, now of Washington, D. C, formerly manager of the Cambria Iron Company, 
although a severe loser by the disaster, donated his fine carriage horses for the relief of the 
sufferers. The team sold on Saturday for $410, a handsome addition to the fund." 



3 o2 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

•'On Friday next, in front of the Franklin House, in Huntingdon, Pa., ex-Sheriff Geissinger 
will offer for sale, to the highest bidder, twenty-five fifty-pound sacks of choice roller flour, 
the gross proceeds to be forwarded to Johnstown for use by the School Board. The fact of the 
sale has been printed in the Huntingdon papers, Burgess Blair has commended it, and a consid- 
erable sum is expected to be realized." 

" Up to June ioth the Adams Express Company has handled 10,000 Johnstown relief pack- 
ages free of charge, the packages coming from all parts of the country. Some of them weighed 
as much as 600 pounds. The freight would have amounted to thousands of dollars. All re- 
lief goods are carried free." 

" A committee of Grand Army men reached Johnstown on July 6th with a fund amounting 
to nearly $15,000, which was distributed among the veterans of Post 30, 125 in number, who suf_ 
fered loss by the flood." 

"The Alliance, O., Relief Committee arrived this morning on a special train with five car- 
loads of provisions. The party is composed of the most prominent iron and steel merchants 
of Alliance." 

"Seven cars of provisions came to-day from Kansas City, in charge of a committee 
appointed by the mayor. Each car bore a broad streamer, inscribed in bold characters : 
'Kansas City's Contributions for Johnstown.' " 

" Twenty thousand hams were received this morning from Cincinnati." 

" Quarters for 5,000 homeless people are provided in tents on the hillside. For provisions 
they are dependent on the charity of the country. Bread and meat are served out to them on 
the committee's order." 

Mountains and seas did not impede the avalanche of charity. The impet- 
uous wave rolled over the Atlantic and encompassed Europe. Cablegrams 
flashed under the ocean conveying contributions and condolence. Sovereigns 
and princes, potentates and peasants mingled their gifts. The richest of them 
all — Queen Victoria — sent a message of sympathy, but not a shilling in cash, 
or even an India shawl ! For three months the offerings flowed in, nor did the 
fountain then dry up entirely. Up to October 1st the following sums were 
received by Governor Beaver : 

Maine $6,488 45 

New Hampshire 12,881 45 

Vermont 3. o8 3 ! 5 

Massachusetts 227, 100 36 

Rhode Island 29, 207 47 

Connecticut 55, 886 05 

New York 366,943 81 

New Jersey 69,914 99 

Pennsylvania, outside of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh 97,290 62 

Maryland 21,389 48 

Virginia 4, 759 77 

West Virginia 1,182 75 

North Carolina 841 81 

South Carolina 845 32 

Georgia. . . 6, 460 60 

Alabama 3.063 10 

Carried forward $9°7,S39 J & 



MAGNIFICENT BENEVOLENCE. 303 

Amount forward $907,339 18 

Mississippi 1, 776 20 

Louisiana 4. 164 40 

Texas 3, 808 65 

Florida 3g40 52 

Kentucky 14,296 55 

Tennessee 4 gig o6 

° hio 74,744 08 

Indiana 3,465 50 

Illinois 13,772 20 

Missouri I0703 4Q 

Kansas Wt m 2 337 16 

Nebraska 11,245 21 

Iowa 21,068 82 

Minnesota 2, 196 38 

Wisconsin 8,687 30 

Michigan 13,234 67 

ArKcLIlSeLS m m _ i o cq2 Qq 

Colorada 7^284 33 

Nevada 1,100 00 

California 89,516 96 

Oregon 3,309 25 

New Mexico Territory 39 25 

Montana Territory 3g g 00 

Dakota Territory q IO ,8 

Arizona Territory . . . B 34 7 c 

Idaho Territory 4 yj q 

Utah Territory 1,401 35 

Wyoming Territory I3 5Q 

Washington Territory 4,675 05 

Washington City 32,912 52 

Ireland 16,633 96 

Mexico 130 40 

Canada , 44 6 4 6s 

England 2 , 106 50 

Turkey 876 57 

Jtely 9 46 

Austria 33Q y 

Germany 30,807 08 

Prussia joo 00 

Wales 24 25 

Sax ony : 2,637 20 

Persia ^o 00 

Miscellaneous cash amounts 288 90 

Total $1,306,051 23 

Included in the above are $100,000 received from the General Relief 
Fund of New York City, $90,000 from the Relief Committee in Brooklyn, 
$150,000 from the Relief Committee in Boston, $70,000 from the Governor of 
Ohio and $50,000 from the Relief Committee of San Francisco, Cal. In addi- 



304 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

tion to the "Governor's Fund,"' there were turned over to the Commission the 
following sums : 

From the Philadelphia Relief Committee, $500,000; from the New York Relief Commit- 
tee, $426,199 ; from the Pittsburgh Relief Committee, $560,000. 

Each of these cities received much larger amounts from subscribers and 
appropriated separate sums to different localities. A large sum was sent di- 
rectly from many sources to the Local Committees at Johnstown. The aggre- 
gate value of food and supplies contributed, which was very great, can never 
be known. Did sufferers ever before receive such proofs of kindly feeling ? 

Notable in the- list of cheerful givers were the people of down-trodden 
Ireland. Their warm hearts knew the meaning of sorrow and desolation, and 
recalled gratefully the help received from America. These messages and letters 
have the true ring of Irish hospitality : 

Mayor's Office, Town Hall, 

Belfast, June so, iSSg. 
To the Right Hon. Governor Beaver, State of Pennsylvania : 

Sir : I cabled you to-day, as per inclosed copy, through Messrs. Drexel & Co. , the sum of 
/500, as first instalment from people of Belfast and vicinity towards the relief of the sufferers 
through the Conemaugh disaster. I avail myself of this opportunity of conveying through you 
the deep sympathy which is felt here with the people of Pennsylvania in general, and the suf- 
ferers in particular, in the great calamity which has overtaken them. We trust that the work 
of relief is going on favorably, and pray that time may soften the feelings of anguish and dis- 
tress which must have been occasioned by this awful disaster. 

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant, 
* Charles C. Connor, Mayor. 

From Cork came this report, accompanied \>y substantial proof of the 

genuineness of the sympathy expressed : 

Mayor's Office, 
Cork, June 17, iSSg. 

Sir : At a public meeting held in the City Court House, Cork, under the presidency of the 
Mayor, on Friday, 14th inst., the following resolution was unanimously passed : 

" That we, the citizens of Cork, in public meeting assembled, sincerely deplore the awful 
calamity that has befallen the people of the Conemaugh Valley, Pennsylvania, and beg to tender 
to the friends of those who have perished, to the survivors of the disaster, and to the people of 
America, our deep sense of this great national misfortune ; and that, having regard to the close 
and friendly relations that have so long subsisted between Ireland and America, and the many 
kindly and substantial favours that Ireland in the times of her darkest need received from be- 
yond the Atlantic, we deem this a sadly fitting opportunity of showing, even in our national 
poverty, the strength of our obligation, the warmth of our sympathy, and the extent of our 
gratitude. " We are sir, your obedient servants, 

Patrick O'Hea, 
Alexander McCarthy, 
The Governor of Pennsylvania, U.S.A. Barry C Galvin, 

Honorable Secretaries. 

The ancient capital of Ireland gave very liberally, this letter arriving with 
the first installment of cash : 



MAGNIFICENT BENEVOLENCE. 305 

Town Clerk's Office. City Hall, 

Dublin, 181I1 June, i88g. 

Sir : We, the Lord Mayor, Aldermen and Burgesses of the City of Dublin, hereby tender 
to you, and through you to the people of America, the expression of profound grief occasioned 
to us by the news of the terrible disaster which has recently devastated one of the fairest regions 
of your great country, causing immense loss of human life and widespread destruction of 
property. 

No calamity could befall the American people, no sorrow could afflict them, that would not 
also touch the hearts of the Irish race. Free and prosperous America has ever been to our 
people a land of shelter and a source of comfort. America has sympathized with us in our suf- 
ferings, helped us in our struggles, cheered us in our gloom, relieved us in our distress and ex- 
tended to us favours which shall ever be remembered by the grateful Irish nation. 

As our exiled kith and kin have a part in the glories of American history, as they have shed 
their blood for the achievement and preservation of American liberty, as they participate in all 
the rights of American citizenship and share the prosperity of their adopted country, so also 
must they inevitably be sharers in any loss or trouble that may come upon the American people. 
We have no doubt that Irish names will fill no small space in the huge death-roll which will 
form part of the record of the recent fearful disaster. To all those to whom that appalling ca- 
lamity has brought mourning we again tender out most sincere sympathy, and we pray that very 
soon the immense resources of your country and the indomitable energy of her people may re- 
pair the ravages which have taken place and bring to the afflicted all the consolation possible 
under such sad circumstances. The laws under which we act as the Municipal Council of Dublin 
debar us from making a grant in aid of the sufferers out of our civic fund, but we have initiated a 
public subscription for that purpose and remitted two installments, each of £1,000, by cable 
messages to you. We have further constituted ourselves a committee to receive and, as speedily 
as possible, to remit such additional sums as may be forthcoming, and we trust that the result, in- 
adequate as it must be to correspond with our desire, will be kindly accepted as a proof of sym- 
pathy and as a token of gratitude and affection. 

Given under the Common Seal of the City of Dublin, 

Thomas Sexton, M. P., 
John Beveridge, Lord Mayor. 

Town Clerk. 

Here is a copy of a resolution of sympathy that is touchingly expressive : 

Town Hall, Clonmel, June ifth, i88g. 

At a public meeting of the inhabitants of Clonmel and neighborhood, joined by the muni- 
cipal council and held in the town hall this day, it was proposed by Alderman James Hill, 
Lonergon, seconded by Richard J. Crean, Esq., solicitor : 

Resolved, That we, the municipal council and inhabitants of Clonmel and neighborhood, in 
public meeting assembled, hereby tender to the American people the expression of our deep 
sorrow for the sufferers of the immense disaster which has recently befallen the people of the 
Conemaugh Valley. In the people of America, Ireland has always found sympathizers in her 
sufferings and comforters in her trials ; and the substantial aid received from across the ocean in 
times of want is remembered by loving Irishmen. 

We therefore take this sad opportunity of showing our appreciation of the obligations we 
are under, regretting that our resources will not permit us to make a more suitable offering. 

We again tender our sincere sympathy to those to whom the dreadful calamity has brought 
affliction, and trust thct our slight expressions may tend to assuage their sorrow. 




3 o6 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

That a copy of this resolution be forwarded to the President of the United States and the 
Governor of Pennsylvania. 

Passed unanimously. Edward C. Hackett, Aid.. J. P., 

CJiairman. 

President Harrison sent $300. The Sultan of Turkey, harassed by enor- 
mous debts, forwarded a nice donation. William E. Gladstone did not neglect 
to convey British gold with his words of grateful consolation. The President 
of France cabled a gift, while the gay capital of fashion became serious for the 
nonce and dived into its pocket. The venerable Simon Cameron, with his 
dying hand, wrote a check for $1,000, almost the last he ever signed. The 
newspapers started funds and the theatres gave the proceeds of benefit per- 
formances. London and Paris were not an hour behind New York and Phila- 
delphia in opening subscriptions. In the country, ministers, little girls and 
school-boys were all collecting for the fund. The story of sympathy and gen- 
erous aid from every town and hamlet in the land can never be told ; there is 
too much of it. 

Philadelphia alone contributed over a million dollars. It was not uncom- 
mon to see glass jars in front of stores and at other places to receive contribu- 
tions from passers-by. In one of these an unknown man deposited S500 one 
da} T . This was indicative of the feeling pervading the whole community, that 
stricken Johnstown must not suffer for houses, clothing or bread. 

The Altoona Committee, among the first to arrive with wagon-loads of 
needful supplies, driven overland from Ebensburg, reported : 

" Imposters did not bother us much. Singularly enough, the ones who -did appear were 
women. On Monday we sent away a man we thought came too frequently. He owned up to 
having fifteen sacks of flour and five hams in his house. On Tuesday we began to keep a 
record of those who received supplies. We have given out supplies to fully 550 families, rep- 
resenting 2,500 homeless people. Our district is only for one side of the river. On the other 
is a commissary on Adams street, near the Baltimore & Ohio railway station, another at 
Kernville, a third at Cambria City, a fourth at Morrellville and a fifth at Cambria. The people 
are very patient, though in their present condition they are apt to be querulous. One woman 
who came for a dress indignantly refused the one offered her. ' I don't want that, 'she said. 
'I lost one that cost me $20 ; $15 for the cloth and $5 for making, and I want a S20 dress. You 
said vou would make our losses good ;' and she did not take the dress. A clergyman begged for 
anything in the shape of foot-covering, but we had nothing to give him. Men stand about ready 
to work, but barefooted. The clothing since the first day or two, when we got only worn stuff, 
has been good, and is now of excellent quality. Most of the children's garments are outgrown 
clothes, good for much service. Pittsburgh has sent from thirty to forty carloads of supplies, all 
of good quality and available." 

Cynics who allege that charity and gratitude are articles seldom found in 
Republics and among corporations would have had to alter their warped phil- 
osophy, had they been in Johnstown and seen train after train rolling in laden 
with clothing and provisions from ever)' point of the compass. Each train 
bore messengers sent especially to distribute funds and provisions and cloth- 



MAGNIFICENT BENEVOLENCE. 307 

ing, volunteer physicians in large numbers, trained nurses and a corps of sur- 
geons equiped with instruments and medicines. Clothes, boots, shoes, cotton 
sheeting, hard breads, salt fish and canned goods were thankfully received and 
supplied the most pressing needs. The relief work was soon so systematized 
as to obviate any confusion. At the distributing depots hundreds assembled, 
morning, noon and night, formed in line and were supplied with provisions. 
Men and women with families were given bread, butter, cheese, ham and 
canned meats, tea or coffee and sugar, and unmarried applicants received 
sliced bread and butter or sandwiches. Nine hundred army tents from Ohio 
were divided, and two white-walled villages sheltered six thousand homeless 
people. Now and then members of relief parties from abroad refused to aid 
in the distribution, preferring to strut about with the badges that were a pass- 
port to all parts of the district. These were the exceptions, as nine-tenths of 
the messengers entrusted with supplies worked like beavers and behaved like 
gentlemen. 

The first secret society to fly to the relief of its stricken brethren was one 
of the youngest orders — the Knights of the Mystic Chain. On Saturday morn- 
ing John J. Davis, representing the Pittsburgh lodges, reached the flooded 
district and was the first secret-society man to set foot in Johnstown. He 
had to walk from Sang Hollow to the stone bridge. After passing a night of 
wakefulness on the mountain-side, Mr. Davis landed in Johnstown at eight 
o'clock in the morning, with one thousand dollars. Accompanied by W. G. 
Gish and S. D. Rainey, the three went to work relieving the sick, caring for 
the widows and orphans and searching for dead comrades. Man} - a burden 
was lightened by the assistance they rendered. President Linton, Secretary 
Boyd and Treasurer Colivar, high officials of the order, relieved Mr. Davis and 
his companions on Monday, continuing the work until every surviving member 
had received assistance and the families of lost Knights were cared for. 

The United American Mechanics sent six members from Pittsburgh, who 
arrived in Johnstown on Sunday morning, as a committee to find and relieve 
distressed members. All such were provided with food, clothing and free 
transportation, if they wished to get awaj' from the scene of their sorrows. 
The committee established headquarters on Adams street, a short distance 
from the hospital. Provisions were stored for distribution among the suffer- 
ers. Not only were the families of the members of the order given relief, but 
poor outsiders received sustenance at the hands of the Junior Mechanics. 
The committee worked day and night searching for missing brethren and their 
families who survived. The large fund turned over for immediate relief was 
handsomely swelled by contributions from the various councils of the order in 
the surrounding country. 

The Knights of Pythias hurried to the scene of desolation with all pos- 
sible speed. Grand-Chancellor Thomas Perry, of Wheatland, Pa., head of the 



308 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

order, arrived on June 4th, and set about finding distressed and needy mem- 
bers. Food and clothing were provided and shelter was obtained for all who 
were in want. The orphans and widows were placed in comfortable homes 
and a goodly sum was divided. 

The Heptasophs, who had but fifty members in Johnstown, were wonder- 
fully energetic in instituting and carrying out measures of relief. Supreme- 
Archon S. A. Will, S. A. Duncan and Lester Logan, of Pittsburgh, had charge 
of the work. The survivors of thirty families were taken to Pittsburgh on 
June 5th and hospitably entertained by the members. The order disbursed 
upwards of ten thousand dollars for the support of destitute members and the 
families of those who perished. 

Grand-Councillor Langfit, of Allegheny, and Grand-Physician Dr. J. W. 
Wright superintended the work of relief and looked after the wants of the sur- 
vivors of the seventy members of the Royal Arcanum. The Ancient Order of 
United Workmen had no lodge at Johnstown, but the Grand Lodge placed 
one thousand dollars in the hands of the Relief Committee. Other secret or- 
ders, not represented by organizations in the Conemaugh Valley, acted in a 
similar manner. 

The Odd Fellows did a grand work for their lodges, all of which lost 
heavily. A report to the Grand Lodge in October presented these figures : 

LODGES. MEMBERSHIP. NUMBER LOST. 

Morrellville Lodge, No. 50 109 None. 

Conemaugh Lodge, No. 191 87 5 brothers, 5 wives and 14 children. 

Alma Lodge, No. 523 233 10 brothers, 15 wives, 50 children. 

Cambria Lodge, No. 785 103 14 bros., 10 wives, 2g children, 1 widow. 

Corona Lodge, No. 999 91 2 brothers, 4 wives, 4 children. 

Montgomery Lodge, No. 57 1 brother, 1 wife, 1 child. 

Somerset Lodge, No. 438 1 wife, 3 children. 

Altoona Lodge, No. 473 1 wife of brother. 

William F. Packer Encampment. . . .90 

Brother John W. Haney, P. G. M., of Pittsburgh, was instructed on June 
4th to go at once to Johnstown, assist in organizing a committee, draw upon 
the Grand-Treasurer for one thousand dollars and take five hundred dollars 
with him for immediate use. A committee, part of whose members remained 
to attend to the interests of the order, was sent with an abundance of supplies. 
Lodges all over the country tendered money. The committee of each lodge 
involved submitted a statement of losses, which was examined and presented 
the following results : 

Losses on real estate S497, 463 00 

Losses of personal property 328,440 00 

Total estimated losses of Odd Fellows in the Conemaugh Valley 5825,903 00 
The Grand Officers arranged with the local committee for two distribu- 
tions. In the first each brother whose property was destroyed received eighty 



MAGNIFICENT BENEVOLENCE. 309 

dollars, each widow of a brother eight}' dollars, and each dependent child 
forty dollars. Funeral benefits were reimbursed and the dues of 308 members 
were paid in advance for one year. Corona Lodge was furnished with a com- 
plete new outfit, Alma Lodge with all the necessary paraphernalia for the 
degree work, and Wm. F. Packer Encampment with a complete set of robes. 
The plan of distribution was unanimously approved by the Johnstown Com- 
mittee. The second distribution was made on Jul}' 27th. The report showed 
these payments : 

297 brothers, 33 lodges, received $37,9°5 00 

35 widows, 5 lodges, received 8, 130 00 

Orphans, 4 lodges, received 2,745 °° 

25 brothers' death benefits, 4 lodges, 1 encampment 1.775 °° 

20 brothers' wives' death benefits, 4 lodges, 1 encampment 915 00 

308 members' dues 1 , 772 16 

Regalia and paraphernalia in 2 lodges 664 75 

Regalia and paraphernalia in 1 encampment 113 50 

Turned over to Johnstown committees as a Reserve Fund 4,599 99 

Total $58, 620 40 

Add for expenses and unexpended balance 1,466 29 

Grand total $60, 0S6 69 

In view of so creditable an exhibit, Grand-Secretary Nicholson might well 
close his report with this telling sentence : 

•' Hereafter, whenever the story of Johnstown is recited, every Odd Fellow, as he recalls 
what the Order has done, can lay his hand upon his heart and reverently murmur, ' Thank 
God that I am an Odd Fellow !'" 

The work of the Grand Army of the Republic, in relieving suffering com- 
rades and their families, was most commendable. The veterans who witnessed 
the ravages of war co\tld appreciate the horrors of the flood and realize the 
necessity of immediate action. The effect of their good work was visible on 
every hand. No soldier's widow or orphan went uncared for. The boys in 
blue, who fought and bled for their country, were there willing to sacrifice their 
last penny to relieve the distressed. The}' dispensed many thousands of dol- 
lars, besides great quantities of clothes and provisions, cheering many a droop- 
ing spirit. The receiving and distributing of relief ultimately devolved largely 
upon the Grand Army men. They appointed a committee of women to assist 
in the work. The women went from house to house to ascertain the number 
of people lost and the exact needs of the people. It was found necessary to 
have such a committee, as there were women actually starving who were too 
proud to take their places in lines with the other women with bags and bas- 
kets. Some of these people were rich before the flood. The most imposing 
display of supplies was at the Pennsylvania Railroad freight and passenger 
depots. On the platforms and in the yards were piled barrels of flour in long 



310 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

rows. Biscuits in cans and boxes by the carload, crackers under the railroad 
sheds in bins, hams by the hundred strung on poles, boxes of soap and candles, 
barrels of kerosene oil, stacks of canned goods and things to eat of all sorts 
and kinds were to be seen. The same agreeable sight was visible at the Balti- 
more & Ohio depot, and the members of the Grand Army had plenty of exer- 
cise in handling the immense stock. 

The Free and Accepted Masons, as became good craftsmen, were not 
found wanting. Upon receipt of the news from Johnstown, District-Deputy- 
Grand-Master James S. McKean, of Pittsburgh, called an informal meeting of 
the local Masonic committee. At five o'clock on Saturday morning, James I. 
Buchanan left as the committee's representative for the devastated district. 
At noon on the same day the remainder of the committee started with several 
carloads of provisions. The}' arrived in the evening, established a commissary 
department at Kernville and began distributing supplies. On Sunday morn- 
ing a general meeting of the officers of the various Masonic bodies was held in 
Pittsburgh, and in a few minutes four thousand dollars were subscribed. Most- 
Worshipful-Grand-Master McCall, of Philadelphia, telegraphed five thousand 
dollars. Before the committee closed its accounts the Masonic bodies through- 
out the United States had subscribed nearly one hundred thousand dollars. 
The Masonic work was systematic, intelligent and effective. Headquarters 
were located in the large frame building near the narrow-gauge depot, on Bed- 
ford street, at which trains on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad had to stop until 
the track was cleared to the centre of the town. There supplies were assorted 
and distributed. Suffering brethren and the families of the dead were pro- 
vided for generously. In short, everything connected with the Masonic relief 
was "on the level, plumb and square." 

About thirty Catholic priests and nuns were on hand early. The Sisters 
devoted themselves to the care of the sick and injured in the hospitals, while 
the priests did anything and everything to make themselves useful. Bishop 
Phelan came in person to organize the Catholic forces, which labored assidu- 
ously. What the hospitals would have done without the nine Charity, seven 
Franciscian and seven Benedictine Sisters is not easy to conjecture. 

Foremost in deeds of unselfishness and self-denial were the women. In 
ministering to the sick, soothing the distressed, relieving the destitute and 
nursing the injured, they avoided no fatigue, shunned no peril, shrank from no 
inconvenience. They were tireless in their efforts to alleviate sorrow, to di- 
minish suffering and to lighten the terrible burdens that weighed down the 
stricken community. Their exertions never flagged amid tempest or rain, and 
their good deeds are the brightest spots in the dark shadows of the over- 
whelming calamity. One of the heroines was Mrs. Jerome, of the Yellow 
Cross, a bright little bod)', with a quaint, coquettish air that secures for her 
friends everywhere. She was in the Zulu war, the Chilian war, the revolution 



MA GNIFICENT BENE I '( 1LENCE. 



3" 



at the Isthmus of Panama, the Canadian small-pox epidemic and the yellow- 
jack scourge in the South. Left a widow at seventeen, she has cared for herself 
ever since. In her work at Johnstown she climbed the mountains, walked 
from district to district, ferreted out needy cases and reported them to the 
quartermaster. She made application for a horse, and then reached out farther 
into the country. Tiny infants were Mrs. Jerome's special care. She saw that 
the proper wardrobes were supplied and the needs of the mothers brought to 
the attention of the relief committees. Heaven alone knows how much good 
she did in a mission of charity and love that could be performed only by the 
best of created beings. 

On Wednesday evening, five days after the flood, the flag of the Red Cross 
floated over the Society's camp near the Poplar street bridge. Everybody 
recognized the welcome signal and knew its meaning. Miss Clara Barton, the 
Florence Nightingale of America, 
had come from Washington, with 
members of the Executive Commit- 
tee, on a mission of mercy. She 
was the originator of the Red Cross, 
which had its inception in Switz- 
erland. Although an American by 
birth, Miss Barton was long the chief 
nurse of a European army. In that 
position she saw the need of edu- 
cated nurses who should minister to 
friend and foe alike. Her idea was 
incorporated in the Society of the 
Red Cross of Geneva, a charter for 
which was granted by the Swiss 
Republic. The object was to form 
an organization of nurses who 
would be admitted into the lines of 
any camp, any battle-field, where 
they could aid the sick and wounded 
of either side. So successful was it from the first that, during the Franco- 
Prussian war, a soldier of either nationality wearing the sign of the Red Cross 
upon his arm was permitted access to all camps. At the close of the Franco- 
Prussian war Miss Barton desired to established a branch of the Red Cross in 
her native land. Securing the right from the President of Switzerland to re- 
move her field of operations to America, she importuned Congress to grant a 
charter. Success finally crowned her efforts, and she set to work to organize 
the Red Cross of America. What was most necessary was an organization 
the members of which would hold themselves in readiness, not only to contri- 




CLARA BARTON. 



312 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

bute, but to go forward, when occasion required, into the midst of fire, pesti- 
lence and flood. Charleston, Jacksonville, Memphis — every locality where 
fire has ravaged, flood has devastated, or epidemic has wasted — bear witness 
to the noble fulfillment of the promise that the Red Cross should be a gracious 
benediction to suffering humanity. 

The organization soon made itself felt in Johnstown. The little buttons 
and square crosses on white ground were seen everywhere. The members 
who left Washington on Sunday night were joined by an auxiliary corps of 
twenty-five or thirty from Philadelphia, including several physicians, whose 
numbers were afterwards increased. Then came Dr. Gardner and wife, of 
Bedford, Indiana, and others belonging to the society, augmenting the force to 
about fifty. The first tents were pitched on the Wednesday following the 
flood, and there, above the white homes of the members of the organization, 
the banner waved its messages of love and succor to the stricken town. A de- 
tail of the members was at once sent to seek out the needy and suffering, to 
whom prompt relief was borne by them in person. In this good work Father 
Field, of St. Clement's, Philadelphia, was untiring. He could be frequently 
seen bearing upon his back great bundles of all things needful for the relief 
and comfort of the destitute. He did not wait for the express wagons — of 
which the Red Cross had two constantly on the go — but delivered relief in per- 
son. The gentle women of the organization carried comfort and hope to the 
sorrowing people. 

The work was done with perfect system. Like the military — always under 
strict discipline — the Red Cross is ready for action at all times. At the head- 
quarters Miss Barton and her faithful aids directed operations. The Phila- 
delphia Branch of the International Red Cross Association erected new tents 
and new buildings, one of them a lying-in hospital. The citizens procured a 
flag-pole, and on the afternoon of June 22d the American emblem .was lifted 
above the Red Cross. The good work of the International Association kept 
increasing rather than diminishing. A carload of lumber from Englewood, 111. 
was used in erecting a building about ioo by 70 feet on ground donated for the 
purpose by the Cambria Iron Company, near the big store. While the ten- 
dency on the part of the general relief department was to gradually contract 
the limits of its operations, and to withdraw assistance where there seemed to 
be a possibility of self-support, the Red Cross was enlarging its field and pre- 
paring for a still more liberal campaign. 

In a single da)' one hundred packages of clothing were sent out from the 
Seventh-ward stores. The demands upon the commissar}' for provisions grew as 
the general commissary restricted its donations. A spacious building was put 
up in Kernville, on the bank of Stony Creek. Tents, hospitals, meals, furnished 
rooms and careful attention were supplied. Hundreds of families received 
furniture to resume housekeeping. A New York gentleman forwarded gi,goo 



MA GXIFICEXT BENE I 'OLENCE. 



313 



worth of tinware, $552 worth of hardware, $402 worth of woodenware, and 
$10,000 in cash at one time. Dr. Elliott, a lady physician from Philadelphia, 
working in connection with the Red Cross, accomplished as much as an)' one 
individual in the relief of the distressed. Heedless of their own condition, 
the nurses housed and cared for the homeless and the injured. At Johnstown 
the Red Cross Society improvised hospitals upon the hill-sides, in the val- 
leys and wherever most needed. There they ministered to mind as well as 
body, and by their gentle care saved the reason of man)' unfortunates who 
would otherwise have ended life behind the bars of a mad-house. Writing of 
them from Johnstown, a close observer said : 

"All hail to Clara Barton and her valiant band! They are to-day to the flooded and 
fever-stricken cities of America what the good Samaritan of olden times was to the waylaid 
traveler. And their work will live in history long after they themselves have fallen to sleep in 
the windowless palaces of peace." 

The first relief organization to arrive, the Red Cross was also the last to 
leave Johnstown. When these zealous workers took their departure early in 
October, they handed over thousands of dollars' worth of furniture, kitchen 
utensils, stoves, bedding, clothing, and three large buildings to a committee of 
ladies. Of Miss Barton it is needless to speak at length. Her name is known 
and revered in every nation under the sun. She is the only American entitled 
to wear the Iron Cross of Prussia, bestowed upon her for her services in the 
camp and field. She is the daughter of a Massachusetts soldier who fought 
with Anthony Wayne. During the war, undismayed by the roar of cannon 
and the clash of steel, with heroic braver)' she devoted herself to the care of 
the wounded who could not be removed to hospitals. At the close of the war 
she visited Andersonville, identified thousands of graves and put a memorial 
over each. Incessant labors undermined her health and she went to Switzer- 
land in 1869. While she was living in Geneva, the Congress of civilized 
powers was held in that city to devise means for mitigating the sufferings of 
the sick and wounded and the innocent non-combatants in all wars. Of this 
Congress Miss Barton, from her great experience on the battle-field and in hos- 
pitals, was an honored member. The outcome was the formation of the Red 
Cross Society, an organization which keeps itself prepared to succor the suf- 
ferers not only from war, but from pestilence, flood, famine and all other great 
disasters. Of the American branch of this Red Cross Society Miss Barton 
very naturally became the head, as she still continues to be. 

Miss Barton is of the middle height and a type of the keen, steadfast, 
powerful New-England woman, with fine olive complexion, very bright black 
eyes and a highly expressive face. She is gifted with great strength of mind 
and character, uncommon personal courage and remarkable persistence. Full 
of a noble enthusiasm for noble work, she is also possessed of marvelous tact, 
political skill and business ability. She has a fine presence and such elo- 



314 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

quence as a speaker that auditors in listening to her pathetic recitals often 
shed tears. Aptly has she been styled "the angel of the battle-field, the pesti- 
lence and the flood." 

The Pittsburgh Relief Committee co-operated with a Ladies' Relief Com- 
mittee, whose duty it was to receive the sufferers upon their arrival from Johns- 
town and see that they were properly cared for. This committee did excel- 
lent service. 

Mrs. Campbell, President of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, 
journeyed from Allegheny the week after the flood and organized a temporary 
home for destitute children on Bedford street. Miss Walk provided room for 
twenty-five children at the Northern Home. Miss H. W. Hinckley and Miss 
E. Hanover, agents of the Children's Aid Society of Philadelphia, came on the 
first train through, and in twenty minutes had established a transfer agency. 
Miss Hinckley said : 

"There are hundreds of children here who are apparently without parents. We want all 
of them given to us, and we will send them to the various homes and orphanages of the State, 
where they shall be maintained for several months to await the possibility of the reappearance 
of their parents, when they shall be returned to them. If, after the lapse of a month, they do 
not reclaim their little ones, we shall do more than we ordinarily do in the way of providing 
good homes for children in their cases. Think of it, in the house adjoining us are seven 
orphans, all of one family ! We have been here only a half-hour, but we have already found 
scores. We shall stay right here till every child has been provided for." 

The Young Men's Christian Association opened rooms in a brick building 
on the corner of Main and Jackson streets, retaining them until a new frame 
structure was erected specially a few doors below Alma Hall. Papers, books, 
toilet requisites, stationery, tables, desks and chairs afforded conveniences for 
washing, resting and corresponding of which thousands of poor fellows availed 
themselves. Religious meetings were held in the new building, which contains 
a lecture-hall and is visited daily by scores of young men. The Episcopalians 
had headquarters in the same residence on Main street, giving assistance to 
all who applied. The Presbyterians occupied a building three doors above. 
The Reformed Church furnished provisions and clothing without money and 
without price. The Catholics aided multitudes, and other churches had a 
gracious reception for adherents of their faith who needed help. Contributions 
for specific objects were not infrequent. The firemen, who lost their engine- 
houses and apparatus, were remembered by their brethren. Musical organi- 
zations assisted the bands, none of which saved an instrument. Sunday- 
schools collected funds for the children. Boys and girls sent money to buy 
books for the pupils and to repair the school houses. In short, no person or in- 
terest was omitted in the comprehensive scheme that aimed to shelter every 
sufferer beneath its broad mantle of charity. 






Lk){**» 




Portraits of Flood Relief Commission. 



XXII. 



FLOOD RELIEF COMMISSION. 



Prominent Gentlemen Selected to Distribute Millions of Dollars — Their High 
Character and Ability — How the Funds Were Handled for the Benefit of the 
Sufferers — A Board of Inquiry Established — Methods of Procedure — Death of 
Judge Cummin — Five Thousand Claimants Assisted — Difficulties to be Sur- 
mounted — Efficient Service of the Secretary: — 
Closing the Accounts — The Proud Record of an 
Enterprise Unrivalled in the Annals of Time. 




J. B. KREMER, 

Sr.creta.ry of the Commission. 

to have the funds pass 
ent, responsible chan- 
the confidence of the 
its affairs in a busi- 
a delicate one, requir- 
sion, patience and dis- 
cies usually develop 
them, and it was so 
was determined to cre- 
the State and clothed 
the cash, in the selec- 
choice natural!}' fell upon 



'A true knight * * * firm of word ; 
Speaking in deeds, and deedless in his tongue ; 
Not soon provoked nor, once provok'd, soon calm'd ; 
His heart and hand both open and both free ; 
For what he has he gives ; what thinks, he shows ; 
Yet gives he not till judgment guide his bounty; 
Nor dignifies an unfair thought with truth." 

— Shakespeare. 



IN order to distribute 
satisfactorily the vast 
sums of money re- 
ceived by the Governor, it 
was considered advisable 
through one independ- 
nel, which would possess 
public and conduct all 
ness way. The duty was 
ing extraordinary deci- 
cernment. Great exigen- 
men adapted to cope with 
in this crisis. When it 
ate a body representing 
with absolute control of 
tion of its members the 
citizens of the highest character and abilitv. The 




J. C. BOMBERGER, 

Treasurer of the Commission. 



31 8 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

position was not to be a sinecure, with big pay and little work. It carried no 
salary and involved much labor and weighty responsibility. On June 14th, 
two weeks after th c Johnstown disaster, Governor Beaver appointed this 
Flood Relief Commission : 

Hon. Edwin H. Fitler, Mayor of Philadelphia. 

Hon. Robert C. Ogden, Philadelphia. 

Hon. Francis B. Reeves, Philadelphia. 

Hon. John Y. Huber, Philadelphia. 

Hon. Thomas Dolan, Philadelphia. 

Hon. H. H. Cummin, Williamsport. 

Hon. James B. Scott, Pittsburgh. 

S. S. Marvin, Pittsburgh. 

Reuben Miller, Pittsburgh. 

The selection of these gentlemen commended itself to the popular judg- 
ment and was universally approved. A place on the commission had been 
offered to Hon. John Fulton, later to Colonel John P. Linton and to W. 
Horace Rose, all of Johnstown, but none of them, on account of the pressure 
of private business, could accept. 

Hon. Edwin H. Fitler is Mayor of Philadelphia, an extensive manufac- 
turer and an active politician. Besides serving on the Flood Commission, he 
was chairman of the Philadelphia Permanent Relief Committee. He was a 
candidate for the Presidency before the Republican National Convention in 

1885, which nominated General Harrison. It is understood Mayor Fitler does 
not propose to retire from politics, in which he plays a prominent part. His 
personal characteristics are such as to inspire respect and win friends readily. 

Hon. Robert C. Ogden is known throughout Pennsylvania as a philan- 
thropist and a business man. He is the devoted friend and partner of Post- 
master-General Wanamaker, in whose absence he and Thomas B. Wana- 
maker manage the immense stores that have a world-wide reputation. Mr. 
Ogden is a prime favorite socially, affable and approachable, foremost in re- 
ligious and educational movements and extremely popular with all classes. 
Philadelphia is his home. 

Hon. Francis B. Reeves is senior member of the wholesale grocery firm 
of Reeves, Parvin & Co., and ranks high as a skilled financier. He first came 
prominently before the public in connection with the famous Committee of 
One Hundred. He was chairman of its executive committee and a leading par- 
ticipant in the independent movement which resulted in the election of Gov- 
ernor Pattison. His superior talents and unquestioned integrity give Mr. 
Reeves a strong hold in political and municipal matters. 

Hon. John Y. Huber is a wealthy flour merchant, deservedly esteemed in 
Philadelphia for his business qualities and personal worth. He attended the 
numerous conferences between Independent Republicans and Democrats in 

1886, held for the purpose of pitting a candidate against Mr. Fitler for Mayor. 



FLOOD RELIEF COMMISSION. 



319 



Hon. Thomas Dolan is a wealth)- Philadelphia manufacturer, president of 
the Manufacturers' Club and the Brush Electric Light Company, and" the 
moving spirit in sundry institutions. He displayed signal ability during the 
Presidential campaign of 1888, when he and John Wanamaker had charge of 
the funds raised for the National Republican Committee. Mr. Dolan has a 
wide political following and is a man of brains and energy. 

Hon. H. H. Cummin was a leading lawyer of Williamsport, and at one time 
presiding judge of the county. He built up a very lucrative practice, making 
an enviable record at the bar and on the bench. His extensive ability was of 
no common order and he ornamented society by his kindliness and culture. 

Hon. James B. Scott, senior member of the firm of James B. Scott & Co., 
is largely interested in copper manufacturing. He is a Vice-President of the 
Chamber of Commerce, a member of the State Board of Charity, President of 
the Trustees of the Western University, a Trustee of the Real-Estate Bank, 
and an influential citizen of Pittsburgh. Mr. Scott was among the first to de- 
vise means for the relief of Johnstown and to visit the afflicted people. As 
Chairman of the Pittsburgh Relief Committee, he systematized the distribu- 
tion of supplies and entrenched himself in the hearts of the sufferers. Re- 
turning to Johnstown from Morrellville on Tuesday afternoon, June 4, to at- 
tend a mass-meeting of citizens, he arrived just in time to hear his name voted 
upon unanimously for Dictator of Cambria County. Modestly discarding this 
title for that of Director, he brought order out of chaos, restored confidence 
and left everything in excellent shape for General Hastings to take charge on 
June 1 2th. His valuable services were recognized by placing him on the Flood 
Relief Commission. 

S. S. Marvin, who worked untiringly for Johnstown, is an enterprising resi- 
dent of Pittsburgh, whither he moved from New York State in 1863. Em- 
barking in the cracker trade, he founded the establishment of S. S. Marvin & 
Co., one of the largest concerns of the kind in the United States. He was a 
good soldier, and he has filled many positions of honor and trust. Governor 
Beaver appointed Mr. Marvin a member of the State Commission, with the 
title of purchasing agent for the Western District of Pennsylvania. In this 
position, as in all others, he acquitted himself with credit. His experience in 
purchasing food and supplies on a large scale proved invaluable, and he en- 
tered with his whole soul into his mission of charity. He summed up the con- 
dition of the stricken region in a single phrase : ■■ Johnstown is a funeral !" 

Reuben Miller is at the head of the manufacturing firm of Miller. Metcalf 
& Parkin, one of Pittsburgh's strongest houses. He is a leader in commer- 
cial matters and prominent in financial institutions. His individuality and 
shrewdness impress friends and acquaintances, who rely upon his opinions and 
appreciate the sterling quality of the man. 

A body composed of such material could not be other than earnest, active 



3 20 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

and efficient. Governor Beaver was elected Chairman, and on June 19th the 
members of the Commission started to visit the inundated regions of the State. 
They went up the Susquehanna River as far as Lock Haven, over the Bald 
Eagle Valley Railroad to Tyrone and thence to Johnstown, returning through 
the Juniata Valley, stopping at various places to make a general survey of the 
situation. At a meeting held on this trip, Mr. J. B. Kremer, of Carlisle, Pa., 
a general agent of the Liverpool & London Globe Insurance Co., was elected 
Secretary of the Commission, and Mr. J. C. Bomberger, the wealthy Harris- 
burg banker, Treasurer. It was also agreed to issue the following circular : 

TO THE PUBLIC. 

That the donors of the funds in the hands of the Flood Relief Commission may know how 
their generous gifts are to be disposed of, and that the expectant recipients of the same may not 
form erroneous views of and foster improper expectations for the same, it is now officially de- 
clared and announced that the following principles shall govern the distribution of relief : 

1 . That the said fund is in the nature of a charity to the needy, and not as a general in- 
demnity for losses sustained. 

2. That a distribution per capita would be manifestly unjust, as it would go alike to the 
rich and poor and alike to all sufferers, no matter what their needs or the extent of their suf- 
ferings. 

3. That a distribution by percentage on the amount of losses would be manifestly unjust, 
as it would result in giving the largest sum to the persons having lost the most, without regard 
to the value of the remaining estate of such persons. 

4. That this fund cannot be used for the benefit of any private or public corporation. 

5. That the fund must go only to the most needy sufferers from the flood in accordance 
with, and in the spirit of, the trust impressed upon it by the donors. 

At the unanimous request of the Commission, Hon. Hugh H. Cummin was requested to 
proceed to Johnstown and remain there as the resident representative and executive officer of 
this Commission in the Conemaugh Valley.' 

James A. Beaver, John Y. Huber, Reuben Miller, 

Chairman, Robert C. Ogden, S. S. Marvin, 

Edwin H. Fitler, Francis B. Reeves, H. H. Cummin. 

Thomas Dolan, James B. Scott, 

Harrisburg, ymie 27th, iSSg. 

This straightforward, common-sense platform gratified the public at large, 
giving contributors fresh assurance that their liberality would not be abused. 
Judge Cummin proceeded to Johnstown as the resident representative and the 
executive officer of the commission, continuing actively in the work until 
stricken with the illness which resulted in his death on August nth. 

A Board of Inquiry, consisting of citizens of Johnstown, was organized to 
investigate all estimates of losses. Weeks and months were spent in this im- 
portant undertaking. By July 10th 4,000 persons presented statements of 
losses, the total aggregating $8,655,114. This did not include the Cambria 
Iron Company, the Natural Gas Company, the churches or the railroads, which 
would nearly double the amount. Each claimant was required to make an 
itemized statement, describing his property and its value, accompanied by 



FLOOD RELIEF COMMISSION 



321 



an affidavit. These statements were scrutinized by the Board of Inquir)' and 
revised where any doubt existed as to their correctness. Based upon their 
estimates of losses, the claimants were divided into these six classes : 

Class 1. — The most needy, generally women who have lest their support and are left with 
a large family and no property. A few men who cannot earn a living on account of physical 
disability were also assigned to this class. 

Class 2. — Those who lost some of their family and saved a little of their property. 

Class 3. — Families that recovered something from the flood, but to whom a small amount 
of money would be given. 

Class 4. — Small families in which one will be able to work and that either had no property 
saved from the flood or very little. In some cases the families owned a lot which had no 
present value, but upon which they could possibly borrow a little money to help them erect a 
building, and soon be in shape to be self-supporting. 

Class 5. — Parties requiring assistance immediately, but in smaller amounts, generally where 
a man was employed and lost heavily, having a smaller family to depend upon than in the other 
classes, to whom a small amount of money would result in great present good in providing the 
family with some of the necessaries of life. 

Class 6. — All other cases, no matter how heavy their losses, but who were not considered 
objects of immediate charity. 

The . Commission appropriated $500,000 for distribution among these 
classes pro rata, according to this plan : 

205 cases in Class 1 81,000 each $205,000 

237 cases in Class 2 600 each 142,200 

372 cases in Class 3 400 each 148, 800 

1, 168 cases in Class 4 300 each 350,400 

1,698 cases in Class 5 200 each 339,600 

On Monday, July 15th, Judge Cummin, who had prepared a special form 
of checks for the purpose, began the first payments on account, until $420,000 
had been expended. The classes, which had been reduced to five, received 
the following amounts : 

Class 1 , $600 to each. 

Class 2 400 to each . 

Class 3 200 to each . 

Class 4 125 to each. 

Class 5 80 to each. 

The pressing wants of the applicants were tided over by this disburse- 
ment, and the Commission arranged to appropriate other sums at future meet- 
ings. The warmth of the atmosphere, with the mercury tn r ing to climb out 
of the top of the thermometer, was frigidity itself compared with the red-hot 
indignation that raged before this distribution. People did not stop to think 
that the Commission must act for the best interests of all concerned and that 
the Board of Inquiry could not perform its task in a da}' or two. This pay- 
ment afforded substantial relief, although two thousand losers had not yet 
submitted their claims. 

After the death of Judge Cummin, Mr. Kremer, in addition to the general 



322 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

conduct of the work throughout the State, was sent to Johnstown as the repre- 
sentative of the Commission to succeed him. When the Commission organ- 
ized, the Commissary Department was in full operation, supplying provisions 
to nearly all the inhabitants of the valley. The distribution of food was con- 
tinued till after the first payment of money, when the list was gradually re- 
duced, until it consisted entirely of widows, orphans and the sick. Large 
quantities of clothing had been given out before, the distribution of which con- 
tinued under the direction of the Commission until about August ist. A large 
supply remaining then was carefully stored to be distributed on the approach 
of cold weather. Contracts were made for large quantities of household fur- 
niture and bedding, which were distributed by the Commission through a local 
committee. One hundred one-roomed ready-made cottages, 10x20, having 
been presented to the citizens by the Relief Committee of Chicago, a request 
was preferred for a larger number. The Commission on June 19th authorized 
the purchase of one hundred more and one hundred of a larger size, which it 
was represented could be delivered and erected within a very few days. At 
the same meeting a contract was entered into to erect on the Public Square in 
Johnstown, designated by the borough authorities, fifty store buildings and one 
hundred offices, to be furnished the merchants and business men of the town 
without charge until they could provide themselves with permanent quarters. 
These buildings are now occupied, and have done much to start the wheels of 
business. On June 27th two hundred four-roomed cottages were ordered, and 
two hundred more on July 31st. All these have been erected and occupied by 
the citizens. There had been expended to this time in the Conemaugh Valley, 
not including money distributions, in round figures the sum of $300,000. 

At the meeting on July gth, when the appropriation of $500,000 was 
granted, sums amounting to $250,000 were awarded to localities in the State 
outside of the Conemaugh Valley, and the work of collecting the facts on 
which to base the distribution was committed to the Secretary. The flooded 
districts were divided into sections, each having a general committee and sub- 
committees for the several sub-districts acting under them. Sworn statements 
were required of the claimants in all cases. The necessities of the claimants 
were closely examined, recommendations for the amounts to. be appropri- 
ated in each case were submitted to the Secretary and the Commission, and 
payments made through the district committees according to the final agree- 
ment. Claims were presented from the counties of Dauphin, Juniata, Perry, 
Mifflin, Huntington, Westmoreland, Blair, Fulton, Bedford, Northumberland, 
Union, Lycoming, Clinton, Clearfield, Centre, Tioga and Indiana. Complaints 
of delay in making payments led the Commission to issue what is known as 
"Bulletin No. 3." This elaborate document explained the motives governing 
the Commission in its treatment of the claims, the causes of delay in paying 
out the money, and the magnitude of the task devolved upon the Board of 



FLOOD RELIEF COMMISSION. 323 

Inquiry by the immense number and variety of losses requiring careful exam- 
ination. The circular, which produced a good impression, is as follows : 

BULLETIN NO. 3, FLOOD RELIEF COMMISSION. 

Harrisburg, August 26th, i88q. 
To the Donors of the Flood Relief Fund : 

Since the date of the last circular the work of the Commission has steadily proceeded. 

The Commission met in Johnstown on the 31st of July. Hearings were accorded to such 
citizens and committees as desired to be heard at an open meeting in the morning, and in the 
afternoon an executive session passed upon many questions of detail. At that date the pay- 
ment of $500,000, appropriated at a previous meeting, was going forward, but had not pro- 
gressed sufficiently to afford the needed experience for further positive action. 

The Commission was represented in Johnstown by one of its members — Judge H. H. 
Cummin, of Williamsport. Under his direction the plans were devised by which the first pay- 
ments were being made to the flood sufferers and the needed additional information collected 
for a further money distribution. At the same meeting the Commission was informed of the 
very serious condition of Judge Cummin, then lying ill at Cresson. The sad announcement of 
his death on the nth inst. has already been widely made through the public press. 

The Secretary of the Commission was directed to assume the executive work which had 
been in Judge Cummin's charge. 

The most important action of the meeting above referred to was the passage of the follow, 
ing resolution : 

On motion, 

Resolved, That a committee of three persons, of which the President of the Commission be 
Chairman, be appointed to consider the entire question of registration, classification and award 
of claims for the final distribution of money at Johnstown, and the said Committee be directed 
to report a complete plan for such distribution at the earliest possible day. 

In pursuance of this resolution a committee was appointed, which occupied from the 12th 
to the 15th inst. in personal investigation and official conference. 

The following, already printed in some of the Philadelphia papers on the 17th inst., will 
give some idea of the situation as then existing : 

"The official boards are known as the Board of Finance, which has control of the relief 
funds sent directly to Johnstown, and the Board of Inquiry, which receives, classifies and 
passes upon the claims of the flood sufferers. 

" Both of these boards derive their authority from the Johnstown people assembled in town 
meetings, and are thoroughly representative, having for their members some of the ablest and 
most highly respected citizens of the place. Upon them the Commission depends for the infor- 
mation needed to properly distribute the funds donated for the relief of the sufferers. 

" Some weeks since the Board of Inquiry reported to the Commission that the registration, 
classification and award for the entire Conemaugh Valley was complete, and upon the same 
day the Commission voted away all the money then in its fund — the sum of $500,000 to be im- 
mediately distributed to the needy classes according to the findings of the Johnstown Board. 

"The payments have been made under the supervision of Judge Cummin and Mr. J. B. 
Kremer, the Secretary of the Commission, and ceased on August 17th, it having been found 
necessary to fix a limit of time to induce people to call for the money. It was wisely considered 
that the first payments, being partial, would afford the experience needed for a final distribution. 
The decision for a partial distribution has been completely justified. 

"The Johnstown Board did its work conscientiously, and supposed it had obtained every 
proper claim, but already 1, 100 new claimants have appeared. Serious duplicates have also been 



324 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

discovered and some erroneous classification. Thus to secure the money for those intended by 
the donors, a complete review of the entire list was required. This is now being done by the local 
board and is showing the new claims to be mainly groundless, besides correcting other errors. 
This board is working rapidly, although taxed beyond physical endurance. The Flood Com- 
mission is absolutely dependent upon the Johnstown Board for the facts upon which to act, and 
the collection and assimilation of these facts, involving the varied interests of more than 20,000 
people, is the task of Hercules. 

" The Commission's Committee met with both the local boards separately and in joint ses- 
sion, and between the three organizations a complete understanding and co-operation exists." 

These conferences evolved the statement of a set of principles which are proposed for the 
control of the final money distribution, which the committee have incorporated in a report to 
the Commission. If this report is adopted and its resolutions made the act of the Commission, 
the money now on hand will be distributed as soon as the Board of Inquiry completes the re- 
classification of claims, which justice to the interested sufferers requires. 

The curiously complicated facts, the accidental errors, the attempts at fraud developed by 
the registration, the formulating of principles of classification, the nice discrimination required 
in the assignment of claims to classes needed to prepare the entire question for consideration by 
the Commission, is a work that cannot intelligently be described in the brief space at command 
and can only be comprehended by actual experience. 

The Commission desires to assure the donors of the fund that the best industry, intelligence 
and energy at command has been applied to the discharge of their great trust. 

The situation at Johnstown is encouraging The first distributions of money have inspired 
the people and much life, energy and progressive spirit are being displayed in restoring the 
town. There is ample employment, at good pay, for all willing to work. 

The following extract from a letter written under date of 22d inst. , by an officer of the Board 
of Finance, will be read with interest. Referring to the work of the Board of Inquiry : 

"They are exercising the highest kind of judicial functions, and they will encounter a great 
many cases in which they will have to collect the evidence before making a decision. I have 
been frequently in conference with them in regard to the application of the principles which 
are to govern them, and I can assure you that the work is difficult, and it is impossible to hurry 
it. I think the feeling of the people here has greatly changed. They are more concerned now 
in having a proper and equitable distribution than in having a speedy distribution." 
By order of the Flood Relief Commission : 

J. B. Kremer, Secretary. 

At a meeting of the Commission on September 13th a plan was presented 
by a committee appointed for the purpose for a final distribution to the citi- 
zens of the Conemaugh Valley. This plan had received long and diligent con- 
sideration. It contemplated giving particular attention to the following classes 
of sufferers : 

First. — Widows and orphans, made so by the flood, who lost their all. 

Second. — Widows, orphans and old and infirm persons, not made so by the flood, but who 
lost their all. 

Third. — The same classes as above, but who were not entirely dependent upon this charity, 
having some other property. 

Fourth. — Persons other than the above who suffered a total loss by the flood. 

Fifth. — Such as lost heavily by the flood, having some means yet at their command, but 
needing assistance to give them a fair start. 

On this general plan the Commission decided to make an appropriation 



FLOOD RELIEF COMMISSION. 



325 



of gi, 600,000, about all the money at command, and instructed the Secretary 
to revise the list and make payment at the earliest possible day. This work 
was pushed rapidly and the payments began earl}' in October. 

Steadily the payments went on, the Secretary acting in connection with 
the Board of Inquiry on general rules laid down for him by the Commission. 
It had been intended to divide the claimants into classes, giving a fixed percent- 
age of their losses to those in each class, but this was found impracticable. 
The circumstances varied so greatly that it became in reality an adjustment 
of each case, based upon the data furnished by the applicant on the blanks 
supplied for the purpose and from information otherwise received. Thus it 
happened that persons nominally in the same class received proportions of 
their losses widely varying. The amounts ranged from $ 10 to $600, the latter 
in very few instances. Out of sixty-one hundred applications filed about a 
thousand were rejected for different reasons. Some were too trifling to justify 
the labor of an investigation, others were handed in by wealthy people who 
neither needed nor deserved charity, and a small number were fraudulent on 
their face. By December 1st the payments had been virtually completed and 
the accounts closed, except in cases where grounds were presented sufficient 
to warrant farther consideration. The final account of the Commission will 
show about as follows : 

RECEIPTS. 

Money sent direct to Governor Beaver, exclusive of $100,000 turned 

over by the Relief Committee of New York $1,224,885 

From the Philadelphia Relief Committee 600,000 

From the Pittsburgh Relief Committee 560,000 

From the New York Relief Committee : 516, 199 

Total $2,901,084 

DISBURSEMENTS. 

For Supplies, Cost of Distribution and Labor about $105,000 

For Buildings .... " 175,000 

For Freight on Supplies " 10, 000 

For Transportation of Flood Sufferers " 60,000 

For Hospital and Morgue Expenses and Burial of the Dead (some 

items yet unaudited) " 25,000 

For First Payment to Classes 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 " 420,000 

For Final Payment, Appropriation of September 13th " 1,600,000 

For Investment to secure Annuities for Orphans " 150,000 

Total $2,545,000 

Paid out for Classes 4 and 5, and reserved for applications under con- 
sideration, etc 356, 084 

Discontent with the awards in man}' cases was emphatic, finding vent fre- 
quently in the most intense criticisms of the methods adopted. Charges of 
gross favoritism and unjust discrimination in favor of near friends were freely 



326 THE STORY OF JOHXSTOU'X. 

made against members of the Board of Inquiry, whose duty was to investigate 
statements of losses and give orders for whatever sums they deemed just and 
equitable. Exception was taken in a few instances to the affidavit each appli- 
cant had to make before getting any money, but this was of minor importance. 
Far more serious was the allegation of wilful, deliberate, premeditated attempts 
on the part of a number of residents to swindle the Commission by obtaining 
more than their fair proportion of money. One citizen is actually said to have 
filed a statement claiming a loss of over $40,000, while he was not in business, 
and had neither house nor land in the flooded region. The arrest and punish- 
ment of some of the people who filled their cellars and closets at the expense 
of real sufferers, too modest to parade their necessities, would have had a salu- 
tary effect. 

Pursuant to instructions adopted at the meeting, of the Commission on 
October 23d, in Philadelphia, the Secretary paid claims on this basis : 

On losses in Class 4 as established by the Board of Inquiry, on $500 and less, according to 
the merits of each case, a sum not exceeding $400. 

On losses of $500 and not over $1,000, according to the merits of each case, a sum not exceed- 
ing $600. 

On losses between $1,000 and $2,000, according to the merits of each case, a sum not 
exceeding $800. 

On losses of over $2,000, a pro-rata proportion of the amount remaining. But no payment 
to exceed the sum of $6,000. 

Payments were by checks printed on pink paper, from a form designed 
expressly for the Commission. Each read as follows in blank : 



i 



$ H° 

^JohnstovOn, Pa., 1886). 

tf\}Q pirs-f Rational Bank of ^o^StoWn, pa., 

pa^ to tl?e ©rder of 

Dollars, 

Being in full of all claims against the fund contributed for the Relief of the Flood Sufferers in the 
Conemaugh Valley, in the hands of the Flood Relief Commission. 



Secretary Flood Relief Commission 



ssion. Q 



One of the most important actions of the October meeting was the estab- 
lishment of an orphans' trust fund, the aggregate amount of which will be 
about $150,000, to pay children who were deprived of their parents by the 
flood the sum of $50 a year until each attains the age of sixteen. This pru- 
dent action was suggested \>y Mr. Miller, whose recommendation was heartily 
seconded by his associates. Under its provisions widows with young children 



FLOOD RELIEF COMMISSION. 327 

and orphans below sixteen will have an annual income, instead of receiving 
the principal at once and incurring the chance of loss or unwise expenditure. 
When the last child reaches the prescribed age the fund will be exhausted. 
The plan was carefully studied in every detail, and the money will be paid 
at a specific date each year by a Johnstown bank. 

In the early days of the disaster burial of the dead could not be attended 
with the care that was desirable, nor were the records as perfect as they should 
have been to be useful. This is not a matter for criticism, as any one can bear 
witness who was at Johnstown during those days, but is a cause for regret. 
With a view of paying proper respect to the unknown dead scattered in many 
localities, and at the same time to perfect as far as possible the records, the 
Commission authorized the Secretary to arrange for a permanent place of 
burial. The trustees of the Grand View Cemetery having presented an eligible 
plot of ground, a fund was set apart by the Commission to keep it in perpetual 
order. The work of re-interment ended the last day of November and was the 
means of restoring to their friends the bodies of many deceased persons. 

Throughout all its operations the Commission aimed to work in full har- 
mony with the Finance Committee and the Board of Inquiry of Johnstown, 
both of which had been appointed at public meetings to represent the citizens 
of the valley. Though differences arose as to methods, yet in ever}' case the 
plan finally adopted met with the full concurrence of both local bodies. 
Chafing at the delay in paying, which the sufferers did not understand, was 
quite natural. The position of affairs was touched upon in a letter from Gov- 
ernor Beaver, on October 25th, to the Mayor of Concord, N. H., acknowledg- 
ing the receipt of a contribution. The Governor said : ■ 

" The problem which confronts our Commission, namely: The proper distribution of the 
great fund which has come under their control, has been given very careful and laborious con- 
sideration. It is comparatively easy to make provision for the widows and orphans, the help- 
less and the infirm ; but careful scrutiny and wise discretion are necessary in apportioning funds 
to those who have suffered property losses, so as not to overstep the bounds of charity and 
enter the domain of indemnity. Our Commission, after having distributed a large amount to 
widows and helpless people, and providing for the investment of funds which will yield a small 
anuual income to orphans until they arrive at the age of 16, are now engaged in the task of en- 
deavoring to put those who were utterly prostrated, so far as their business was concerned, upon 
their feet, in order to enable them to resume their ordinary avocations. After this is done, 
other questions affecting the general welfare of the community which was congregated in the 
Conemaugh Valley, and of the wants which may be delevoped by the approaching winter in 
other localities, will be fully considered. 

"In the hurry and excitement immediately attending the flood in June, dead bodies were so 
numerous, and the facilities for removing them to proper places of sepulchre were so meagre, 
that they were interred at various points most convenient to the point of discovery. Our Com- 
mission is now engaged in re-interring them in one place in the general cemetery near Johnstown. 
Many bodies, unidentified at the time of burial, are being identified, and a careful record of 
everything by which the body can be identified hereafter is being kept. Other charitable work 
of this kind will doubtless suggest itself to our Commission when we dispose of the more press- 
ing questions which now confront us. 



328 " THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

"It is difficult for those who are not familiar with the situation of affairs in the Conemaugh 
Valley to realize the utter prostration of an entire community such as occurred there. It is 
little wonder that rehabilitation is slow and difficult ; but courage and self-help are being de- 
veloped, and in the end I have no doubt that Johnstown will be restored to more than its former 
prosperity 

"The charity which has flowed in a constant stream almost without intermission since the 
second day of June toward the sufferers in our State has been a constant benediction. It has 
come from all parts of the civilized world. As the recipient of it, in large degree, I have been 
brought into very close contact with it, and have been cheered in the midst of so much that was 
depressing by this marvelous exhibition of the beautiful side of human nature. Our thanks are 
due to the good people of Concord for this exhibition of their charity, which, I assure you, is 
very warmly appreciated." 

Preference was given the citizens of Johnstown in all work performed by- 
direction of the Commission. The rule was carried out wherever practicable, 
that, in the employment of persons in any capacity, citizens of the Conemaugh 
Valley should receive the first attention. For inequalities or discrepancies in 
the amounts paid applicants the Board of Inquiry is responsible. The last re- 
vision will rectify these errors as far as possible, and wind up the labors of a 
bod} r remarkable not less for the lofty character and eminent services of its 
members than for the exalted purpose which called it into being. The mem- 
bers of the Commission not only served without compensation, but all contri- 
buted liberally to the relief fund and paid their own expenses, drawing not one 
cent from the treasury for personal outlay. Their reward is the consciousness 
of duty well performed, the approbation of the public and the well-earned 
plaudits of thousands of grateful hearts. 

In the choice of its Secretary the Commission was particularly fortunate. 
It was essential to secure a man of integrity, experience in auditing accounts, 
skilled in handling large sums of money and possessing tact and efficiency in 
dealing with complex questions. Mr. Kremer, who was at the time a General 
Agent of the Liverpool and London Fire Insurance Company, having charge 
of a part of Pennsylvania and Maryland, Delaware and the District of Col- 
umbia, was unanimously selected. He was well known as a business man in 
Philadelphia, where he had been engaged in insurance for years. He is "a son 
of the Rev. A. H. Kremer, pastor of the Reformed Church at Carlisle, the 
home of J. B. at the date of his appointment. Mr. Kremer was a student at 
Dickinson College, Carlisle, for years, but was graduated from Franklin and 
Marshall College, Lancaster, Pa., in 1862. Connected for some years with 
the Lancaster schools, he gained distinction as a teacher. Entering the in- 
surance business, he soon rose to positions of trust and responsibility, 
achieving signal success. The company, at the urgent request of Gov- 
ernor Beaver, granted him permission to accept the Secretaryship of the 
Flood Commission because of his peculiar adaptation to the work. His prac- 
tice in adjusting fire losses rendered him familiar with the preparation 
and settlement of claims for damages. His efforts to provide suitable burial 



FLOOD RELIEF COMMISSION. 329 

for the unkown dead resulted in the interment of over seven hundred uni- 
dentified victims in Grand View Cemetery. As chairman of the committee 
having charge of this matter he labored with great zeal and had the satisfac- 
• tion of seeing his ideas carried out in their entirety. Secretary Kremer 
is in the vigor of life, always courteous and obliging, with the qualities which 
command lasting respect and friendship. 

In the death of Judge Cummin, who passed away at Cresson, the Commis- 
sion lost a capable member, the State a noble citizen, and humanity a devoted 
friend. Although the disease that carried him off had made great headway 
before he went to Johnstown, it was aggravated and hastened by his efforts to 
assist the flood sufferers. Few men within the modest range of a limited 
arena, not seeking public honor, have earned a higher reputation for sterling 
integrity and conscientious discharge of duty. Acting under the advice of 
his physicians, he made Cresson his headquarters and did a very large amount 
of work. His ailment — Bright' s disease — manifested itself painfully, obliging 
him to desist from labor. For two weeks he suffered acutely, bearing the at- 
tacks with exemplary resignation and dying as peacefully as an infant falling 
into sweet sleep. Mrs. Cummin attended him constantly, soothing his last 
moments by her gentle presence. The body was taken to Williamsport, 
which honored the dead jurist with the largest funeral the city had ever seen. 
Of Scotch-Irish ancestry, he was born May 25, 1841, at Liverpool, Perry 
County, Pa. Educated in the public school at his native village, he after- 
wards became its teacher. In 1862 he removed to Williamsport, read law, 
and in 1864 was admitted to the Lycoming county bar. He enlisted in the 
army in 1864, serving until the close of the war, when he returned home and 
practiced his profession. In 1878 he was elected President-Judge, retiring 
early in the present year. When Williamsport was devastated by the flood of 
May 31, he devoted his whole time to the relief of his unfortunate neighbors. 
He was Chairman of the Citizens' Relief Committee, and so well did he per- 
form his work that Governor Beaver appointed him a member of the Flood 
Commission. Taking up his residence at Cresson, to be near the scene of his 
Johnstown labors, he was stricken with the disease that terminated his useful 
career. Judge Cummin was married in May, 1869, to Miss Charlotte White, of 
Williamsport, who survives him with one son, a student at Harvard University. 
In the appointment of Judge Cummin the Governor made no mistake. He 
was in the prime of life, active, shrewd, vigorous, thoroughly versed in legal 
matters and gifted with the talents that ensure success. The story of the 
Johnstown calamity and the measures for the relief of the distressed people 
would not be complete without an earnest tribute to the memory of Hugh Hart 
Cummin. 

Although having large business interests to engross their attention, the 
members devoted much time to the affairs of the Commission. Governor 



33 o THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

Beaver was present at ever)' meeting, conducted an immense correspondence 
growing out of the disaster, acknowledged contributions, answered thousands 
of inquiries and did not permit the smallest detail to suffer from delay or 
neglect. He was not alone in this -diligent performance of duties not always- 
pleasant. Each member exhibited laudable vigilance in the effort to expend 
the relief funds judiciously and do justice to all concerned. How far success 
crowned their labors the)' may confidently leave the public to judge, assured 
that the verdict will be one to which in the coming years they can point with 
honest pride. 



Subsistence Depot, H - 3. I 

PROSPECT HILL. 1 



li 



JULY, 1889. 
3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 
17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 

This Card Not Transferable, and good only for the above 
Month and at the Depot above named. 

C. C. BERRY, Commissary, jj 

F AC-SIMILE OF RELIEF CHECK FOR SUPPLIES. 



XXIlI. 



EXPERIENCES AND OBSERVATIONS. 



Recitals of Different Survivors, Who Tell of What They Underwent and Wit- 
nessed — Trying Situation of a Family on Market Street, of Whose Home Not a 
Vestige Remained — In Water up to the Neck — Houses Carried Away and Neigh- 
bors Borne Down the Current — Ladies Whose Courage Did Not Falter in Time 
of Trial — What Two Citizens Saw in Their Travels Over the District — State- 
ments that Convey Some Idea of What Many People Endured and Beheld. 



1 Behold, we live through all things — famine, thirst, 

Bereavement, pain ! all grief and misery, 
All woe and sorrow ; life inflicts its worst 

On soul and body — but we cannot die, 
Though we be sick and tried and faint and worn ; 

Lo! all things can be borne." — Elizabeth Akers. 




OLUMES could be filled with recitals of experi- 
ences and observations, strange, trying and 
peculiar as Thomas De Quince} 7 ' s opium reve- 
lations or Eugene Sue's lurid creations. An 
elderly man, whose family and home were 
swallowed up, spent Friday night on a roof, 
which rolled and creaked with every move- 
ment of the waters by which it was surrounded. 
Five other men and two women were with 
him, scarce daring to breathe lest their refuge 
give way and precipitate them into the swim. 
The old gentleman had been working in his 
yard, and wore neither coat nor vest. He suf- 
fered terribly from the cold, the drenching rain almost freezing him. At last 
one of the women drew off her flannel petticoat and wrapped it about the 
shoulders of the sufferer, greatly to his relief. The whole party reached shore 



ALL NIGHT ON A ROOF. 



332 THE STORY OF JOHXSTOWN. 

when daylight dawned on Saturday. Once during the night, which seemed 
interminable, the clock in the tower of the Catholic Church was noticed strik- 
ing three. " Thank God !" fervently exclaimed the aged pilgrim, "it's three 
o'clock and will soon be light !" Fifteen minutes later the clock struck twelve. 
The three strokes that had excited attention were the three-quarters of the 
preceding hour. One of the poor fellows said : 

" It sounded like a funeral knell. I was never so disappointed in my life. We all sup- 
posed it was three and were watching for the first streak of dawn. That some shed bitter tears 
you may feel certain." 

Shortly before the flood Emile Etoine left Cambria Borough for his native 
town of Crecnville, in Aisace-Lorraine, to receive a fortune inherite'd from a 
relative. He had been employed as a puddler at the Cambria Iron Works, 
and wife and five children remained behind. Other persons claimed closer re- 
lationship to the dead uncle, but at last he received the money and came back 
with a draft worth §20,000 in his pocket. Reaching Johnstown on December 
20th, he had not heard of the disaster and did not recognize the place. Here 
is his sad experience : 

"When I got off at the railroad station I turned back to one of the depot-men and in- 
quired how far I had yet to go to Johnstown, as I had got off at the wrong station, and how soon 
the next train left for that town. The man looked at me for a moment as though he thought I 
was not quite right in my mind, and asked me whether or not I could read the sign on the sta- 
tion house. I looked up, and there it was, plain enough. While I looked at the sign in a dazed 
sort of way another man stepped up and said, ' I guess you're a stranger here, or have been in 
Johnstown before the flood ; it's quite changed now. I wouldn't have known it myself if I had 
been away for six months.' As the man spoke I felt as if someone had punctured my heart 
with a sharp knife, and I fainted dead away. When consciousness returned I went out to find 
my wife and children, but something told me that they were dead. The part of Cambria City 
where stood the house in which I left my family was completely swept away. Nobody knew 
what had become of my family, and the people could hardly understand my sorrow and grief, 
having suffered so much themselves. I was told that nearly all the people of Cambria who in- 
habited that section where my house had stood perished. I am not going to remain in this 
country. Everything reminds me of the terrible loss I have sustained, and I will return to my 
native land." 

One evening, soon after the arrival of the Red Cross workers, Mrs. Sam- 
uel Henrie, a refined, prepossessing lady, entered the society's headquarters 
and, in conversation with some of the ladies, gave the leading incidents in her 
flood experience. Her home was 114 Market street, near the market-house. 
All the morning the family had been watching the water, for many houses on 
the level were submerged several feet. Before noon it began to come in, so 
the}' took up the carpets and set up the piano. Mr. and Mrs. Henrie, with 
their widowed daughter, grandson and a Miss Green, comprised the household. 
As the water rose higher and higher, they were forced to go up-stairs. Ex- 
pecting the water would soon lower, amid the excitement and fatigue, they did 
not think to take anything to eat. After a time they thought of this, and the 



EXPERIENCES AND OBSERVATIONS. 



333 



daughter waded in waist-deep and got a loaf of bread. This proved to be a 
wise forethought, for it was all they had until the next day, not being able to 
get down stajrs again. They were watching and waiting for the water to lower, 
when, about three o'clock, Miss Green walked to the window and said : " Mrs. 
Henrie, I think the water is falling." 

To quote Mrs. Henrie' s own language : 

" I looked, and thought it had fallen about three inches; but before I had turned away 
from the window I heard the roar and crash. Miss Green said, ' My God ! what is that ?' I 
cried, ' Close the window, it is the reservoir !' I knew instantly what it was. Then we both fell 
on our knees and asked God to tell us what to do. This took only a moment. We rushed to 
the sewing-room, where we found my husband, daughter Maggie and grandson standing. At 
that moment the compressed air knocked the top off the market-house. Falling on our house, 
it crushed it and everything around us and at that corner of the street. We ran for the hall, 
my daughter and myself much bruised. Miss Green and Maggie sprang to a table which stood 
near, and with their fists and feet knocked out the window. By that time the debris was piled 
nearly to the second-story window. They climbed out upon it and pulled me through after 
them. My daughter called to her father to come, but he could not, for he had his little grand- 
son in his arms. The house tilted and he was pushed and crowded, he hardly knows how, but 
he got out and landed on the wreckage around us. It was only a step to the roof of our house 
and I was almost helpless with terror. Maggie tried to help me on the roof, but I slipped and 
went down in the water to my neck. Her courage and strength seemed superhuman, and she 
pulled me out and pushed me on the roof, I helping myself but little. In her efforts to help 
me she sank in the water to her arms ; but she said there seemed to be some force under which 
raised her to the surface again. I fear that but for this brave girl we would all have been 
drowned or killed. Of course, we were all greatly excited, scarcely knowing what we were 
doing. Only those who saw that oncoming mountainous terror can know what destruction and 
death it meant. But no one had long to dread it, so quickly was it upon us, grinding, crushing 
and crumbling everything in its path. 

' ' When we were on the roof we looked and saw that all Market Street had gone. Our 
house, a little out of the current, still stood on one side, crushed, but in its place. Directly the 
wire-mill came dashing down toward us. When my husband said it was only a part of it I 
could not believe it ; it looked so immense as it jammed in just above us and crowded us out 
into the current, and away we went almost to the stone bridge. Here the jam was so great that 
the force of the current, was checked. The back-water sent us out along Kernville Hill. In 
this short time the horrible scenes we witnessed were unspeakable. At one moment we would 
see may-be a mother and children clinging to each other on a log, or roof, or house, when 
something would strike it, giving it a roll in the water which would send them under. Possibly 
one might rise to the surface, but more probably the mass of wreckage would close over them 
all forever. The next moment a monstrous tree, driven through the waters, would dash against 
another group, crushing them all. In passing along through this death and destruction, we 
looked across Napoleon Street and saw our other daughter, Mrs. Kate Clawson, who lived in 
Kernville, sitting with her three children on a part of the roof of their house. The kitchen and 
dining-room had been swept away. We soon lost sight of them, as we floated about a square 
above and drifted in near Morris Street. As nearly as we could tell, the distance we were 
whirled was more than a mile. Here we seemed to stop, but the water was not quiet enough 
for us to attempt to get off until about seven o'clock. Then we climbed over housetops, logs, 
broken cars and almost everything, some men holding boards for us to walk on, and landed in 
Dean Canan's attic, getting in through the narrow window. We found eighty-two persons who 
had got there before us. The water was not quite to the third-story in this house, and all night 



334 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

we expected every moment that it too would go. But it was a large, substantial building and, 
not having been struck by any heavy body, the force of the back-water did not move it from its 
foundation. In all our perilous rides to this place there was not a scream from one of us, nor 
a loud word spoken, nor a tear shed. In fact, there have been no tears of any account shed 
since. It was too great a terror and shock for tears ! 

" After the agony we had passed through we hoped we were safe in this attic. Then the 
fire broke out and so fierce was it that by its light we could see and know one another's faces. 
We suffered from the added fear that it might spread over the entire town, not knowing who of 
our neighbors and friends were being consumed in its angry flames. I had my absent daughter 
and her children constantly in mind. Everybody was in a state of feverish excitement, aggra- 
vated by fatigue and want of food, for no one had had any supper, and no one thought of it 
until nearly midnight, when the children cried for bread. Our little boy cried so piteously that 
we told him if he would go to sleep, when he wakened there would be something for him to eat 
— not knowing how it would come, or that it would come. At last the poor child fell asleep ; 
but for the rest of us it was a long, sleepless night. 

" When daylight began to dawn Mr. Henrie looked out for some way to get us to the hills. 
He saw on the wreckage at some distance a man with a loaf of bread which he said was for an 
aged lady. When told that she had already gone to the hills, and Mr. Henrie asked him for 
the bread, he put it on the end of a long pole and reached it to him. This bread was broken 
into small bits and given to the people. A small piece was handed to my daughter and me. 
Remembering what we had told our little boy, we could not eat it, but kept it until he should 
waken. 

" For all the blessings of a lifetime I was never so thankful as when we got into that attic. 
Although all my life I have taken an active part in church and Sunday-school, I always seemed 
to be afraid to pray in public. But when I got into that house, and Mrs. Canan came to me 
and said I must have dry clothing, our arms went around each other's necks, a right glad shout 
went up and I prayed loudly. 

" About nine o'clock on Saturday morning we endeavored to get out of this crowded place. 
A plank was reached across from our window to the window of the large building next to us. 
We walked on the plank, through houses and over houses, until we got to the hill, when we 
went to the house of a German family named Wahl. Here food was offered us, but I had no 
appetite, thinking that my daughter and her children were drowned after we saw them sitting 
on the roof the night before. Soon word came that they had been rescued and were near us on 
the hill. I started to run down to find them, but fell from exhaustion and could get no farther 
for some time. Maggie, delighted to hear that her sister was alive, ran on. When she em- 
braced her sister and told her we were all living, Kate sank in a dead faint. It was hours before 
we could restore her to consciousness. This meeting was near Mrs. Rose's. She called them 
in and showed every kindness, bringing the best she had in the house to put on Kate, who had 
lost everything but the wet clothes she had on. From fright, exposure and cold her jaws 
were set, and for a long time she could not speak understanding^- . 

"After my little grandson heard me pray that night, he said, 'Grandmother, don't be 
afraid, we won't be drowned !' I did not reply to the child at that time, but a few days after- 
ward I asked him why he thought we would not be drowned when we were so near it. He 
said, ' You always told me if I said my prayers I would be saved ' — not understanding that I 
meant his soul instead of his body. Perhaps such faith as that saved us." 

Before noon Mr. Clawson's brother, from East Libert}-, found the Henries, 
in searching over the Kernville hill. Had he gone around on the other side 
of the river, no one can tell how long it would have been before he could have 
reached them, as there was no way of crossing the creek, except far below. 



EXPERIENCES AND OBSERVATIONS. 



335 



Next morning Mr. Clawson started with part of the family and Miss Green for 
East Libert}'. The nearest point where they could take the train was Sang 
Hollow. They found a man who let them ride to Morrellville. He was nearly 
crazy with grief, having been told that his wife and six children were lying 
dead. It was a frightfully mad ride. The man drove as fast as he could go, 
over almost everything. Several times, when the}' could endure it no longer, 
the ladies spoke to him, but he said he was not driving very fast. In his sor- 
row he could think of nothing but his eagerness to reach the scene of his 
former home, and on they dashed. When they reached Morrellville, more 
dead than alive, he found that the dread report was true. His wife and his 
children were lying side by side. 

From Morrellville the girls had to walk in the rain and mud four miles to 
get the train, which was so crowded with dazed and half-crazed people that 
they were forced to be helped in through the window. Men actually climbed 
on top of the cars in their frantic haste to get away. The girls did not know 
they were without hats until they left the car, forty miles from home. It would 
have made no difference if they had known — there were no hats to be had. 

After Kate and her children and Miss Green left them, Mr. and Mrs. 
Henrie and Maggie went back to Mrs. Wahl's and remained for two days. At 
that house they fed hundreds of people, going miles into the country for food. 
They were constantly cooking, and it was the same in every house left stand- 
ing. Such willingness to feed everybody was never known before. The 
generosity displayed by those who had dry clothing, in giving to those who 
came out of the water destitute and barely alive, soon reduced their wardrobes 
to what they had on and established in the hearts of all an abiding faith in the 
goodness of humanity. 

Some days later, when the water had gone out, the Henries looked around 
for the remnant of their home, hoping to recover something. They found 
only the daughter's watch fastened in a clump of mud, and one five-dollar bill 
out of §200 that had been put for safe-keeping in a trunk. Not even a part of 
the trunk was to be seen ! For all their losses they did not grieve a moment. 
Their hearts were too full of thanksgiving that all the family had been saved, 
though a brother-in-law, Dr. Wagoner, and his entire family of nine were all 
lost. They lived on the same square and were one of fifteen families out of 
which only five persons were rescued. For eleven days Mrs. Henrie and her 
daughter assisted in the distributing rooms of the Grand Army Relief Corps, 
sent from Philadelphia. They lost every article they possessed and had to 
start life again. This was the second time Mrs. Henrie had been wrecked by 
cruel floods. 

About noon on the day of the flood Alexander Adair and Richard Eyre 
left the Merchants' Hotel to note the water and inspect the stone bridge. 
They could not go directly to the bridge, owing to the depth of the water on 



336 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

the flats, and went up Railroad street to Woodvale. Crossing the Conemaugh, 
they proceeded on the railroad track to Morrellville. The road-bed was all 
right that distance, except just above the freight station, where a new side, 
track was washed away and a freight train had already gone down. They 
stopped at Morrellville about ten minutes. The street-car station was closed 
and the business of the road suspended. At ten minutes after two o'clock they 
started back and at the lower end of Cambria met a freight train of four cars. 
The engineer called to Mr. Adair that he had just come from East Conemaugh 
and was told that the reservoir might break any minute. They went on to the 
street running parallel with the railroad and warned a number of people. 
Meeting the Burgess of Cambria they told him what the engineer had said. 
He replied that nearly all the people were out of their houses and that he 
would see that further warning was given. Near the bridge they met a man 
who said there had been two telegrams of warning received at East Cone- 
maugh. It was now about a quarter after three o'clock. They remained half an 
hour at the bridge, watching people being taken out on rafts from second-story 
windows in Millville. Suddenly they heard a shout, and saw people running 
to Prospect. A moment later the big water came. They hastened down to 
where a train standing, and demanded that the cars be parted to let the peo- 
ple pass to the hill above Haws' Cement Mill. The train-men could not com 
ply, and the people crawled over and under the cars. 

Mr. Adair and Mr. Eyre looked up the river and saw the heavy 
iron bridge at the Point topple over like a straw. Houses began 
to come thick and fast. Within two or three minutes the arches 
were closed by the mass of wreckage, filled with people. As a house 
struck it would apparently shoot the occupants out at the top. There 
was very little shrieking. The people seemed to be stunned. Many men 
went to work to save the victims. The first person recognized, after 
probably a dozen women and children had been -rescued, was Miss Carrie 
Higson, who walked off as deliberately as though going down the gang-plank 
of a steamboat. She was taken from her own house, which stood on Walnut 
street. Next to be saved and recognized were Miss Carrie McConaughy; 
Miss Gussie Potts, whose father, Judge Potts, was soon afterward saved; Mr. 
Kraft, the jeweler at the Lincoln Bridge ; J. G. Ludlum, Miss Genevieve and 
Rus, daughter and son of Cyrus Elder ; Miss Kate D. Jenkins, the school- 
teacher and elocutionist ; Professor T. B. Johnston, Superintendent of Public 
Schools ; Mrs. Anna M. Ha}', James P. McConaughy, who has since died ; 
Miss Maggie McConaughy, who was very badly hurt and %vas taken to Morrell- 
ville, and Miss Florence McConaughy, who would not leave the bank until her 
father, who was wedged in wreckage up to his armpits, was rescued. Several 
hours later the family of Robert Parsons, the tailor; the Higson family; a 
woman named Mrs. Williarhs, from the Point ; Policeman John D. Jones, of 



EXPERIENCES AND OBSERVATIONS. 337 

the Johnstown force, who floated down on a roof with thirteen others and was 
the only one rescued, the others having sank before the bridge was reached ; 
a woman, who said she started from the second toll-gate in Hornerstown ; Miss 
Marbourg, from Market street, and many others were taken out. Men, women 
and children came from all parts of the valley to the bridge. 

The wounded and sick from the wreck were removed to the dry-kilns and 
boiler-houses at Haws' Cement Mill. Mr. Eyre crawled along the hillside 
clear to Kernville and secured some blackberry brandy from a Mrs. Davis for 
those who needed the stimulant. One entire family rescued from the wreck 
had the measles and were taken to Morrellville. 

One incident of the night's experience was a woman's refusing to be re- 
moved from a very bad portion of the wreck until she had put up her hair ! 
Another poor woman, who was taken out in safety and placed in the house of 
Mr. Haws' stable-boss, kept crawling around on the floor and pawing at the 
walls as if still trying to free herself. A husband and wife met on the road be- 
side the wreck. Each thought the other had been lost, and at sight of each 
other they embraced, sinking on their knees and offering prayer of thanks- 
giving for their safety. 

On Saturday morning Mr. Adair and Mr. Eyre made their v/ay back to 
town. They could see people on the housetops everywhere. They hunted 
for a boat and found one. To it they hitched Stewart Osborne's horse, which 
was tied to a post at the upper end of Kernvdle, and hauled it over the hill 
and down to Akers & Baumer's slaughtery, where they made a pair of oars. 
Mr. Adair and a bricklayer named Painter went out in the boat and brought in 
three loads of people, when the boat gave out. E. B. Entwisle and a friend, 
from Moxham, came with two boats and rescued the people around there. On 
the hillside above the slaughtery Mr. Eyre met Mrs. R. H. Canan and daugh- 
ter, of Main street, at whose house he roomed, and went with them to find their 
friends. Mr. Adair then acted as deputy under Sheriff Stineman. His first 
station was at a rope bridge which he helped build from the stone bridge to 
the Cambria Iron Company's ground near the steel works — the first bridge of 
any kind to be constructed. Over this bridge all coffins, supplies, workmen 
and sufferers passed up town. 

Marie Dubenski, aged thirty-five, and her two children, seven and three 
years respectively, sailed from Hungary last June, landing in New York on 
July 2d. The poor woman's lot was a sad one. Three years ago her husband 
came to this country, as many of his countrymen do, to better his condition. 
He promised to send for his wife and children as soon as he had earned 
enough to pay their way hither. The last letter she received from him was 
dated April 30th. She grew tired waiting to hear from him again. With 
what little money he had sent her and through the assistance of relatives she 
set sail for this country. She was taken care of by the Emigration Commis- 



338 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

sioners of Castle Garden and expected every day to hear from her husband. 
A letter sent to her mother in the old country, dated at Johnstown, came to her 
as she finished her breakfast on August 16th. It bore the sad news that her 
Johann was among those who lost their lives at the Johnstown flood. The 
cries of the poor woman and her children, as they realized the sad fact, could 
be heard away out in the Battery Park. Mrs. Dubenski was given aid by a 
Relief Committee and sent back to her Hungarian home. 

Talking with me regarding the disaster, a few days after her arrival, Clara 
Barton took this view of things, which fortunately proved not to be sustained 
by the results : 

" It is like a blow on the head. There are no tears; they are stunned : but, ah, sir ! I tell 
you they will awake after awhile, and then the tears will flow down the hills of this valley from 
thousands of bleeding hearts, and there will be weeping and wailing such as never_ before. 
You see nothing but that dazed, sickly smile that calamity leaves, like the crazy man wears 
when you ask him, ' How came you here ? ' Something happened, he says ; that he alone 
knows : all the rest is blank to him. Here they give you that smile, that look, and say, ' I lost 
my father, my mother, my sisters,' but they do not realize it yet. The Red Cross intends to be 
here in the Conemaugh Valley when the pestilence comes, and we are making ready with all our 
heart, with all our soul, with all our strength. The militia, the railroad, the relief commit- 
tees, everybody is working for us. The railroad has completely barricaded us so that none 
of our cars can be taken away by mistake." 

Could human sorrow fathom greater depths of misery than it sounded in 
thousands of cases at Johnstown? 




Miss Mamie Fink. 

Minnie Bracken. 
Minnie Ogle. 
Cora Wagner, 



Miss Annie White. 
Mrs. T. Williams. 
Miss Minnie Linton. 

Laura Hamilton. 



Miss Mary White. 

Katie Bracken. 

Bertha Hoffman. 
Mrs. Alexander Reck. 



XXIV. 



PATHETIC SCENES AND INCIDENTS. 



Heart-Breaking Separations From Loved Ones — A Brother's Agony — How a Wife and 
Daughter Were Lost — A Drowning Wife's Last Kiss — A Faithful Lover's Vigil — . 
Affection that Death Could not Subdue — Relics of the Missing at Alma Hall 
— Weird Collection of Souvenirs of the Disaster — Terrible Grief of a Sorrow- 
ing Maiden — Fate of a Young Bride — An Aged Citizen's Sore Misfortunes — 
Distressing Occurrences of Many Kinds. 



" What tragic tears bedew the eye, 

What deaths we suffer ere we die!" — John Logan. 




THE PAGES of pathetic, soul-rending scenes and inci- 
dents, observed personally or gleaned from the trembling 
lips of pale survivors, that might be written ! Every- 
where could be heard tales of cruel partings, heart- 
breaking separations and bitter experiences. Shocking 
sights filled the mind with a nameless terror, producing 
impressions not to be dismissed lightly. Crowds of 
sufferers moved and acted as if dazed by their afflictions, 
staring at strangers vacantly and seldom recognizing 
intimate friends. One shuddered to hear a bereaved 
husband and father tell with stony calmness how his 
wife and children went down in the angry waters. 
Despair drove many a poor creature to the verge of 
insanity, inducing brain fever or nervous prostration. 
God alone knew the grief in homes still inhabited, from 
which light and joy and hope had fled forever. The un- 
complaining, silent, crushing woe that drains the very life-blood was imprinted 
on a legion of pinched faces. The vain search for dear ones furrowed deep 



'did you see them?" 



342 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

lines in cheeks lately rounded and blooming. Men and women lived long years 
in one terrible week, aging prematurely. Homeless thousands wandered list- 
lessly, with no soothing presence to soften the blow which had inflicted an in- 
curable wound. Hundreds sat on the hills and gazed wistfully upon the deso- 
lated waste, all the while bemoaning their loved and lost. Earth had no solace 
for the gnawing ache which even Time, the great healer, can never efface. 
Heaven pity the icy, stolid, unnatural being whom the agonizing spectacles 
encountered on every hand did not move to tearful sympathy ! 

James Elgin came to Johnstown on Monday after the flood to attend the 
wedding of his sister, fixed for Wednesday, June 5th. He knew that a disaster 
had taken place, but had no idea that his family was involved. His agony 
may be fhiagined upon learning that his mother and three sisters had been 
drowned and that his father was demented over the calamity. The old gentle- 
man was crying like a child, and asking those he met : 

' ' Did you see them ? Did you see them go down ? They will come back for the wedding to- 
night. She is gone for her bridal wreath." 

Cyrus Elder, solicitor of the Cambria Iron Company, returned from 
Chicago in the forenoon. Water surrounded his residence, hindering him from 
getting home. His wife and daughter stood on the porch, waving their 
handkerchiefs to welcome him. During the afternoon he procured a boat 
somebody had constructed of rough boards and endeavored to reach his family. 
The craft upset, spilling Mr. Elder into four feet of water. He waded back 
and entered his brother's house for a change of clothing. While he was put- 
ting on dry garments the flood overwhelmed Johnstown. His elegant home 
was utterly destroyed, Mrs. and Miss Elder going down with the wreck, to be 
seen no more. The husband and father was spared, his life blighted by a sor- 
row that can have no alleviation this side the grave. Death, inflexible and 
unrelenting, had stilled the voices whose sound was sweetest music and pre- 
vented the meeting so fondly anticipated. Both ladies were singularly ami- 
able and accomplished. Miss Elder was a lovely girl, and her untimely fate, 
in the flower and beauty of winsome maidenhood, excited profound regret. 
Could the Scottish bard's elegy be applied better : 

"The parent's heart that nestled fond in thee, 

That heart, how sunk, a prey to grief and care! 
So deck'd the woodbine sweet yon aged tree ; 
So from it ravished, leaves it bleak and bare." 

Policemen John Reese climbed on the roof of his house and was assist- 
ing his wife when the building fell, crushing the lady. She threw a kiss to 
her husband with her dying gasp, as the waters closed over the faithful heart 
whose last throb showed the quenchless, unselfish love that is Heaven's 
choicest gift to man. 

Two of the fifty persons who died in the Hulbert House were Miss Carrie 
Diehl, of Shippensburg, and Miss Jennie Wells, of Tioga county, a teacher in 



PATHETIC SCENES AND INCIDENTS. 343 

the Johnstown schools. The former' was betrothed to William Ocher, of 
Philadelphia, a worthy young man who travels for a wholesale firm. The true 
lover set out for Johnstown immediately upon hearing of the disaster, coming 
to Harrisburg. Thence he went to Chambersburg, hoping to get through by 
the Baltimore & Ohio road. Travel was cut off and he walked across the 
country. Arriving at Johnstown on Tuesday morning, the second body he 
saw in the Fourth-ward school-building was Miss Diehl's. Near her was Miss 
Wells, an intimate friend, whose home was inaccessible. Mr. Ocher had the 
two girls put in coffins and carried to the track of the Baltimore & Ohio rail- 
road. They had to lie in the ditch by the side of the rails, where the mourn- 
ing lover kept constant vigil for five hours, until a train would start for Rock- 
wood. The tedious journey to Shippensburg with the two bodies^nded on 
Wednesday afternoon. A crowd awaited the arrival of the remains at Ship- 
pensburg, and the interment took place on Thursday from the home of Miss 
Diehl's parents. Mr. Ocher' s devotion evoked the warmest tributes of praise. 
It was a touching sight to see him sitting beside the coffins, guarding them as 
a trusty sentinel would watch the costliest treasures committed to his care. 

A battered trunk on Main street, half the lid broken off, contained some 
photographs and a dozen love letters, each signed "Your Own Mary." Who 
sent or who received the missives could not be determined, as none bore a full 
name or address. On the wall of one building floated from East Cone- 
maugh hung a few photographs, dumb tokens of affectionate regard that 
touched a gentle chord in the beholders. 

A young bride was borne to the grave on the last Sunday in July under 
circumstances especially distressing. Several members of her father's family 
perished in the flood, which swept off all their property. The lover to whom 
this girl had plighted her troth asked that the marriage ceremony be per- 
formed. He wished to be with the household and do what he could for its 
support. A solemn wedding took place, but the bride did not recover her 
spirits. The shock to her delicate system was beyond mortal help and she 
became weaker day by day. A slow fever set in, which ended fatally. The 
gentle sufferer never complained, regretting only the grief her departure would 
cause the loved ones whose efforts to prolong a life so dear were unavailing. 
Thus died Mrs. John H. Thompson, one of the heart-broken victims of the 
dreadful calamity that overwhelmed the Conemaugh Valley. Is it any wonder 
that manly brows are seamed and loving hearts withered by corroding, canker- 
ing grief? 

An esteemed resident of Johnstown was the venerable Judge Potts. Just 
fifty years ago he went to the little village on the Conemaugh, a place then of 
small pretensions and sparse population. The young stranger practiced law, 
filled man}' offices of trust and responsibility as the years rolled by, and was 
long a leading citizen. He occupied a pretty home, with nice grounds, flowers, 



344 THE STOR V OF JOHNSTO IVN. 

fruits and all the comforts a liberal taste required. There he hoped to pass 
his last years peacefully and close his eyes when the final message came. A 
beloved daughter was swept away with the pleasant home by the deluge, 
which left not a trace of the building or its contents. The only thing recovered 
was a silver spoon, the one relic of the hospitable dwelling known to every man, 
woman and child in the settlement. Among the lost treasurers were books, 
papers and original manuscripts which cannot be duplicated. The}' contained 
a vast amount of matter relative to the early days of Johnstown, the growth of 
its industries and the development of its varied resources. In them were em- 
bodied the results of a half-century of careful observation and research, from 
which to compile an accurate history of the district. How severely Judge 
Potts feels the loss of these invaluable documents may be inferred. He has 
gone to Oil City to live with his son. Such a case ma)' well awaken pity for 
the misfortunes of an aged man. deprived at a stroke of the possessions long 
years of delightful association had rendered most precious. 

A resident of Market street saw his wife safe on land, and thought his 
only daughter, a girl of twenty-one, was also saved. Just as he was making for 
the shore he saw her and went to rescue her. He succeeded in getting within 
about ten feet of land, when the girl said, "Good-bye, father," and expired in 
his arms before he reached the shore. 

In the distribution of relief under military authority guards of soldiers 
would stand at short intervals to keep applicants in line and repel intruders. 
On one occasion a guard entered into conversation with a woman in the row. 
She was telling a story of distress, for the soldier looked about hastily to a spot 
where canned meats and bread were located and made a movement as if to obtain 
a supply for the woman. The eyes of brother soldiers and a superior officer 
were upon him and he had to resume his position. It was not unusual for the 
soldiers, under cover of dusk, to over-step their duty in order to serve some 
applicant who, through age or lack of physical strength, was poorly equipped to 
bear the strain. All sorts of provisions were asked for. One woman would 
ask boldly for ham, canned chicken, vegetables and flour. Another would 
approach timidly and be glad to have a loaf of bread and a little coffee. 

The remains of Wallace McConaughy were blown out of the wreck at the 
stone bridge. The body was torn to pieces and would never have been identi- 
fied but for a receipt from W. J. Rose & Son, which the young man had in his 
pocket. Other bodies were similarly lacerated by the dynamite, which was 
used to burst the logs so that the debris in the jam could be loosened and 
floated down the river. The dynamite was placed in holes bored into the 
timbers. When the log was broken a chain was attached to the parts ; it was 
hoisted by a machine on the bridge and dropped into the current. 

Surprise has been expressed at the nude condition in which many bodies 
of women were found in the ruins. They had their clothes torn from their 



PATHETIC SCENES AND INCIDENTS 345 

backs while struggling to free themselves from the wreckage of their homes. 
Their clothes would be caught between timbers and on splintered boards, and 
in their frenzy to escape they would plunge forward and leave the greater 
part, if not all of their raiment, clinging to that which held them prisoners. 
In that manner and state several escaped being numbered with the dead. 

On one of the first houses that struck the bridge was a woman wearing a 
white shawl. When the house struck she threw up her hands, fell back into 
the water and was seen no more. 

A man in Kernville the day of the flood had jet-black hair, moustache 
and beard. That evening he had a battle with the waters. On Saturday 
morning his hair and beard began to turn gray, and they were soon well 
streaked with white. The change is attributable to his awful experience on 
Friday night. 

The wife of a man in Kernville told her neighbor next door on the fatal 
Friday morning that she dreamed the night before that Johnstown had been 
destroyed by a flood and — in a stage whisper — " John was drowned. " The 
man was unkind to his wife and made life a burden to her, as all the neighbors 
knew, but she was very patient. When she told the story of her dream and 
its results she and the lad}' to whom she spoke both took a quiet laugh. But 
the dream came true before the sun went down. "John was drowned," 
while his wife was saved. 

Joseph Eyrich, an aged citizen of Kernville, had two dwelling-houses 
wrecked, in one of which he resided with his son-in-law. He lost, a trunk from 
this house and subsequently found it in the wreckage. Somebody had found 
it before him, broken it open, and abstracted $500 in cash, a gold watch-chain 
and other valuables from it. This left Mr. Eyrich penniless in his old age. 

A searching party found a lady's hand-satchel containing $91 in cash, 
deeds for $26,000 in property and about $10,000 in insurance policies. Mrs. 
Lizzie Dignon was the owner. She and her husband perished in the flood. 

Miss Rose Carroll, of Conemaugh Borough, her mother and brother 
Thomas were taken. Their bodies were recovered soon after. That of Miss 
Rose was near the site of the family residence, her piano lying on top of it. 
The water moved the residence of John Kirby, corner of Locust and Adam 
streets, out about four feet on the latter thoroughfare. It flooded the first floor 
of the house almost to the ceiling. The piano floated as the water rose, and 
when the flood subsided it settled down to the floor unharmed. It was tested 
and found to be in perfect condition. Not a drop of water found its way to 
the interior of the instrument. Scores of pianos were ruined. 

The large bell from St. Mark's Episcopal Church, on Locust street, was 
found in a pile of wreckage at Napoleon and Haynes streets, Kernville, hav- 
ing been drifted across Stony Creek. 

J. L. Smith, the marble-cutter, moved his wife and three children from his 



346 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

home to the Hulbert House for safety, and all perished when the hotel went 
down. The Heptasophs lost but two members — Drs. L. T. and W. C. Beam. 
William, son of Contractor Horn, Conemaugh Borough, was the only member 
of the City Guard who perished. 

An orphan boy, nine years old, the last of a family of six, was one of the 
passengers on the train that ran to Somerset on Monday night, carrying away 
a multitude of sufferers. The boy's aunt was taking him to her house at 
Bethel. The poor child tried to tell of his escape, by clinging to a piece of 
timber, but hot tears would stop his sentences as he thought of how his 
mother and sisters went down. 

The weird collection of relics in Alma Hall was the means of informing a 
young girl of her lover's doom. She was visiting friends near Johnstown, who 
brought her to see the destruction. The party visited the room stored with 
souvenirs of the dead. In one of them the fair maiden 'recognized the cuff 
buttons of her affianced husband, whom she believed to be in Blair County. 
He was a guest of the Hulbert House, having been sent to Johnstown unex- 
pectedly. The girl fell in a faint and did not regain consciousness for hours. 

The recognition of little articles that had belonged to loved ones was 
often distressing be3'ond description. Sometimes it was a picture, a bit of 
jewelry, a piece of writing, a fragment of clothing. More than once N. C. 
Shepherd's touching lines might have been used : 

" There is the hat 
With the blue veil thrown 'round it, just as they found it, 
Spotted and soiled, stained and all spoiled — 
Do you recognize that ? 

" The gloves, too, lie there, 
And in them still lingers the shape of her fingers, 
That some one has pressed, perhaps, and caressed, 
So slender and fair. 

" There are the shoes, 
With their long silken laces, still bearing traces, 
To the toe's dainty tip, of the mud of the slip, 
The slime and the ooze. 

" There is the dress, 
Like the blue veil, all dabbled, discolored and drabbled— 
This you should know without doubt, and, if so, 
All else you may guess. 

" There is the shawl, 
With the striped border, hung next in order, 
Soiled hardly less than the white muslin dress, 
And — that is all. 

" Ah, here is a ring 
We were forgetting, with a pearl setting, 
There was only this one — name or date? — none? 
A frail, pretty thing." 



XXV. 



SEEKING FOR LOVED ONES. 



Anxious Friends in Quest of Near and Dear Relatives Whom Death Had Claimed — 
Weeks and Months of Patient Search for Bodies — Haunting the Heaps of De- 
bris and the Morgues — A Devoted Sister and a Faithful Brother — Coming 
Great Distances on Mournful Errands — How Some Were Rewarded and Others 
Disappointed — A Feature of the Flood Which Developed Many Painful Sur- 
prises—Hopes and Fears of Earnest Watchers, Who Never Flagged. 




" Why seeks he with unwearied toil 
Thro' death's dim walksto urge his way, 

Reclaim his long-asserted spoil 
And lead oblivion into day?" 

— Lanchorne. 



MRS. FLORENCE WEBBER 
E. VINCENT WEBBER. 
MISS MAME WAGNER. 



y 



ROM FAR and near anxious friends flock- 
ed to Johnstown to seek for lost ones con- 
cerning whom no tidings could be learned. 
Wives and husbands, sisters and brothers, par- 
ents and children undertook long, fatiguing, ar- 
duous journeys on this mournful mission. The 



attached queen 
of Harold, scour- 
ing the battle-field of Hastings for the fallen 
King of England, was not more strongly im- 
bued with a lofty resolve. One of the objective 
points to which the visitors wended their steps 
was the room in Alma Hall devoted to the re- 
ception of articles found on the bodies of the 
dead or picked up in the wreck. Something 



^ fel _-V^>-. 




HARRY BISCHOFF. MRS. SWINEFORD. 



348 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

there might furnish a clue which would lead to the discovery of the missing. 
Few spots were so suggestive of the saddest features of the flood as that apart- 
ment. Hundreds of articles were identified and claimed by agonized relatives, 
but hundreds vainly awaited recognition and ownership. The collection em- 
braced watches, jewelry, pieces of silverware, emblems, paper, clothing and 
scores of odds and ends. Man}' old pictures — ambrotypes, card photographs 
and daguerreotypes — lay on the table, water-soaked and badly faded. Beads, 
trinkets and trifles of every sort abounded. In one corner was a trunk filled 
with spectacles and eye-glasses, the property of an oculist who perished in 
the Hulbert House. A life-size crayon portrait of a young man could 
not be identified positively, although thousands looked at it. Of course, the 
owners of much of the pile of sundries lost their lives. This displa}' of un- 
claimed goods was an affecting proof of whole households missing, with none 
remaining to ask for the mementoes which friends of departed ones would 
value beyond price. A world of touching history was involved in that remark- 
able accumulation, the variety and extent of which might well recall fancies of 
"The Old Curiosity Shop." Here are some entries from the record : 

$25 found in black silk stocking with foot of female, high button shoe. 

Blank book, W. K, Endley, found on light-complexioned boy. 

Three band rings, one with initals " F. M. "; ear-ring in left ear, right ear-ring torn out. 

$6.25 in money on female 47 to 50 years of age, auburn hair. 

Watch chain and breastpin and plain gold ring marked " H. B. to M. S. McD.." on female 
20 to 25 years of age, supposed to have been a passenger on east-bound train. 

$7.04 found on male, light hair, weight about 150 pounds. 

$200 in gold in purse, $30 in greenbacks and breastpin found on female 65 years of age, gray 
hair. 

Pocket-book containing $11.61 and buttons and plain gold ring found on female, fair com- 
plexion, 45 years of age, black hair, dark blue eyes. 

Three rings on female, weight 185, five feet eight inches. 

The inspection of these relics frequently brought painful surprises. One 
day in June a bright, refined girl visited the apartment, in company with her 
brother, a slight youth of seventeen. He looked deathly white, did not speak 
and sank exhausted into a chair. The appearance of the girl was at variance 
with the place. Her countenance, sunburnt from exposure searching in the 
ruins, was hopeful and animated. None looking at her would have supposed 
that the twofold effort of sustaining her brother and concealing her own worst 
fears could be so supported. In a low voice she said : 

"We have been looking for mother and cannot find her. Perhaps we can learn something 
here. She had a ring — her wedding ring — with letters in it — her own, F. M. ; my father's, 
L. H. Can you tell me anything ? " 

Her voice had been very firm. It was a wonderful display of fortitude. 
An attendant replied, as he opened a trunk of cigar boxes full of them : 

' ' Wedding ring ; initials — that anything like it, Miss ? " 



SEEKING FOR LOVED ONES. 349 

He handed it to her with the callous carelessness that seems to accom- 
pany familiarity with the dead and the belongings of the grave. Attached to 
the ring was a little tag with the memorandum, "woman about fifty-five, 
hair partly gray, dress black. ' ' That was all. A glance at the ring and its 
tag, and the girl trembled from head to foot with a convulsive cry, as if all her 
pent-up anxiety found vent in a wail that must reach to heaven. She threw up 
her hands and fell upon her knees, praying and sobbing hysterically. 

The affecting fate of Mr. and Mrs. E. Vincent Webber was rendered still 
more memorable by the long search for their bodies. Mr. Webber came from 
England to Philadelphia, spent six months in Harrisburg, and went to Johns- 
town in the fall of 1887 to fill the position of assistant superintendent of the Gau- 
tier Works. He was a young man of fine ability and character, highly educated 
and a master of his profession. One month before the flood he married Miss 
Florence Wagner, of Harrisburg. The lady was a finished scholar, teacher in 
a business college, and deservedly esteemed for her moral and social excel- 
lencies. The loving pair commenced housekeeping in Woodvale, and had just 
taken up a carpet, the water having touched the floor, when the great deluge 
overwhelmed them. The last seen of them they were standing at their rear 
door with hands clasped. Letters and a few trinkets were all that the untir- 
ing search of affectionate friends could discover of the young husband and his 
bride for many weeks. Miss Mame Wagner, sister of the dead wife, and 
Mr. Webber's brother, urged by the warmest desire to find the remains, per- 
sonally inspected every quarter of the flooded district. Miss Wagner visited 
the Pittsburgh hospitals, frequented the morgues, scrutinized hundreds of 
bodies and displayed such devotion as to win universal admiration. Her 
brother-in-law was found in Johnstown, a mile from his home, the middle of 
Jul}', buried temporarily and finally interred in Harrisburg. Four days later 
Mrs. Webber was dug from between two freight cars lodged in the acres of 
ruins back of the lower end of Main street. Her sister brought the body to 
Harrisburg to be laid beside her husband's. Miss Wagner tells the story of 
her faithful search modestly, disclaiming any praise for doing what she knew 
was her duty. It is as follows : 

" In April I first went to Johnstown to arrange the home of my sister. Everything that 
love and money could do was done by Mr. Webber to make his home a paradise for the one he 
had chosen to be his for life. With what satisfaction and pleasure we eyed the home before our de- 
parture for Harrisburg, little dreaming that such a terrible cloud was then hanging over the peace- 
ful horizon of their happiness ! April 30th was their wedding day, just in the spring of the year, 
when the whole creation is clad in sunshine, the forest smiles and hearts are joyous. With every 
prospect for a happy future, they bade us farewell . Could we have seen what was then lurking 
in the skies, we would not to-day be mourning their loss. Alas ! we frail creatures of the dust 
cannot tell what a day will bring forth. Our hearts that have been made to ache by the Johns- 
town flood no earthly power can cure. Like thousands of others, the ache will go on and on 
until the veil is lifted and we shall know the meaning of what was dark here. 

"On May 31st, one month from their wedding day, they were swept away in that terrible 



350 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

flood. When we retired on that awful Friday night we thought of them as happy and far from 
harm, not knowing that before the sun had set they were in Our Father's home above. I shall 
never forget the next morning, June ist, when we first heard the news. Though I was told that 
thousands had been lost, that Woodvale, their home, had been swept as completely off the face 
of the earth as if it had never existed, I had hopes that our loved ones were saved. We sent 
message after message, but received no answer. We kept up hope, thinking they could not send 
us word because the telegraph wires were down. In a few days others received communica- 
tions, but not so with us. At last a message came saying they were lost. Those words will ever 
ring in our ears. The agony they caused is inexpressible. Yet are they lost ? They are absent 
from us, but present with the Lord. They are lost in joy unspeakable, whilst we are left to 
suffer. As soon as I heard the news I wanted to go to Johnstown, but could not on account of 
travel being suspended. Long, weary days and nights we spent waiting for the first train to bear 
us to the scene of so much distress. On June 7th, accompanied by Frank Webber, brother of 
E. V., we started for Johnstown by the Baltimore & Ohio route. Ours was one of the first trains 
that went over the road after the flood. 

" I will not speak of the delays along the road, and what we experienced. After traveling 
for almost two days, we came in sight of what was once Johnstown. We had to walk some dis- 
tance until we came in the town proper. Words cannot convey to any one that did not see it the 
condition of that once prosperous town. Pen or picture at its worst cannot describe the awful- 
ness of it all. When I looked about me I felt as if I should sink. Having been there only five 
weeks before, I knew something of the place ; but now I was lost and knew not whither to go. 
The rain came pelting down upon us, so that we were almost blinded by its force. After realiz- 
ing our situation and giving vent to our feelings, we decided to wend our way to headquarters, 
which we reached after a great deal of difficulty. We met General Hastings, who had 
been informed of our coming. His genial manner and willingness to help us sent a little hope 
to our bleeding hearts. There were also others at headquarters always ready to assist us, whose 
kindness I shall never forget. Still hoping against hope, we expected to find our sister and 
brother on the hills, and yet when I saw the extent of the destruction I wondered that even a 
few were left to tell the tale. 

" We had supplied ourselves with food and such things as we thought our friends would 
need. I soon saw that, without a guide, it would be impossible to get around. General Hastings 
kindly gave us a guide, who remained with us until we knew the way ourselves. Our search had 
then begun. We started first for Woodvale, walking along the railroad until we came to the spot 
that had once been the home of my sister. It was now a bed of sand. I knew the spot from 
a path opposite, on the hill. Nothing else was left to mark the once beautiful Maple Avenue. 
The only houses left were those skirted about on the hills, without which it would have been a 
barren waste. We climbed the hills and inquired in the houses, but they could tell us nothing. 
We then went back to Johnstown, visited the six morgues, read over the lirt of those found, but 
there were no descriptions of Mr. and Mrs. Webber on the walls. Then we looked at the bodies 
in each morgue. I thought, as I looked upon them, 'Oh, why should the spirit of mortal be 
proud?' I cannot dwell upon the sight of those bodies. My wish is to forget. If our lost ones had 
been among the victims brought in each day, we might have passed them by unrecognized, only 
for the clothing or something about their persons that would be a clue to their identification. 
Without that those we were seeking might have been buried unknown before our eyes, and we 
not have known it. 

" I made inquiry and found that Mr. Jones, who lived next door to my sister, was the only 
one saved out of his family. He was sick at Morrellville, two miles below Johnstown. Anxious 
to hear what he had to say, and hoping he could tell us where to find the Webbers, we started 
for Morrellville on foot — no other way to travel then. We reached there in the evening and 
found Mr. Jones. He told us that Mr. and Mrs. Webber were in the house when the flood 



SEEKING FOR LOVE J) ONES. 351 

came. My hope sank at this report. It was late, and onr guide reminded us that we had better 
find a place for the night. Rest never entered our minds, but for him we would have wandered 
about all night as if dazed. We found a place in Morrellville for that night, the best we 
could expect under the circumstances. We had eaten nothing the whole day, but were only 
hungry for the sight of those we were seeking, Such was the first day in Johnstown. We had 
walked at least fifteen miles. Next morning early we went back to Johnstown in the heavy rain. 
We sought everywhere, leaving no stone unturned to find them. From one morgue to the 
other, times without number each day, we went. 

"Every day brought with it new experiences and horrifying sights. We dismissed our 
guide and I raveled about ourselves. In Kernville we found part of their house, a mile from 
where it had stood, all broken to splinters. Under the ruins we found the letters that were 
written by my sister to Mr. Webber before their marriage. Later I found his letters to her in 
Johnstown, near Morrell Institute. So we went on and on until night overtook us. Then we 
realized that we had no place of shelter. I thought we would be more apt to find a place in 
Kernville, so we decided to go thither. We went from house to house and asked for lodging, but 
they said no in every instance but one. Mr. Rhinebolt, of Napoleon Street, said we could stay 
there. After ten days of fruitless search we returned home. I was home only three days when 
word came that Florence was in Mercy Hospital, Pittsburgh, sick. We went on immediately 
and searched every hospital in and around the city, but all in vain. Our hopes were again 
crushed and we once more left for home, stopping off at Johnstown, searching everywhere. 

"On Sunday we left for Harrisburg, as Mr. Webber expected to sail for England the fol- 
lowing Thursday, owing to his mother's serious illness from the shock of Vincent's death. She 
was preparing to visit this country when the news of his fate prostrated her. The next day I 
received a message saying Mr. Webber's body was found. I went on alone, identified his re- 
mains and had him buried temporarily, thinking I would surely find my sister and then take them 
home together. For five long weeks I traversed mountains, went to Nineveh, New Florence and 
everywhere I thought I might find some clue. From one night to the next I did not know- 
whither to go, until Mr. Longaker, in Kernville, kindly offered me room in his house. I fol- 
lowed every report, never giving up hope. At the end of five weeks I began to feel ill and 
thought I better go home for a few days. Some of my Johnstown friends said they would 
interest themselves in my case until I returned. My daily prayer was that I might find my 
sister's remains. One day, while looking out of the Millville morgue window, thinking and 
feeling so ill, the thought suddenly came to me that, in the pile of debris opposite, close by the 
armory, I would find the body of my sister. I acted upon the thought and told Mr. Hender- 
son, the undertaker. He advised me to speak to Captain Hamilton, who had then charge of 
the town. I did so. At first he declined, saying that the force of men had been reduced and 
other places had to be cleaned before the one I suggested to him. I told him that I felt my 
sister was there. I insisted and finally he promised to put a force of men on that spot. I 
watched until I was scarcely able to stand, so on Friday, August 7th, I came home with Mr. 
Webber's remains. I had made arrangements to return the following Wednesday and had 
some one stationed at my post. 

"The following Wednesday I did return. But the evening before I received a message, 
'Mrs. Webber found,' and just where I thought she would be. With what satisfaction I re- 
turned to Johnstown, knowing we could at least have her precious form to lay in a grave we could 
visit and keep fragrant. On August gth I brought her body home for burial in the Harrisburg 
Cemetery. Thus ended my Johnstown experience. The trials, hardships and privations I 
counted nothing. Love for our dear ones helped me bear all, and I only did what a true sister 
should do. My efforts were not in vain, for we have the sad satisfaction of knowing where 
their bodies are, whilst many will never be found. They now lie side by side until the resurrec- 
tion morn shall wake them, and we shall then realize the glad re-union our hearts are longing for. " 



352 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

A day or two before the flood Mrs. Mary A. Swineford and her daughter- 
in-law, Mrs. Ed. Swineford, left St. Louis for New Berlin, Juniata county, Pa., 
the elder lady's home. They were on the ill-fated Day Express, which was 
caught at East Conemaugh, and both ladies perished. They would have been 
safe, as it turned out, bad they remained in their car, which was not injured, 
but in a moment of great fright they fled from the train and were engulfed by 
the torrent. The first news the family received was the following dispatch to 
the St. Louis Republic : 

Saltsburg, Pa., June 2. — The agent of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company to-day ob- 
tained possession of a large trunk which was found in the drift-pile about a mile east of this 
place. The trunk contained a large quantity of women's clothing of fine quality and several 
letters addressed to Mrs. Swineford, St. Louis, Mo. From their tenor they would indicate that 
it was Mrs. Swineford's intention to visit relatives in Juniata county, Pennsylvania. 

Mr. Ed. Swineford hastened to Johnstown at once, spending days of fruit- 
less toil seeking for the bodies of the wife and mother he fondly loved. The 
strain prostrated him and he was taken home in a critical state. Ex-Governor 
Swineford, a near relative, telegraphed to spare neither pains nor expense in 
the quest. Harry Bischof , the younger lady' s brother, arrived under instructions 
to stay until every nook had been explored if necessary. He haunted the 
morgues like a spectre, hoping to identify his sister in one of the bodies daily 
brought to light. "Old Mortality" was not more persevering in his visits to 
the graveyards. Days lengthened into weeks without any sign of the missing 
women. One evening in July a blast at the stone bridge brought up the re- 
mains of the elder lady, which were identified by her watch, breastpin and 
other articles. Mrs. Swineford was the mother of Mr. Ed. Swineford, Secre- 
tary of the St. Louis Bridge & Tunnel Railroad Company, and of Howard 
Swineford, a prominent citizen of Richmond, Va. She was an active worker 
in the W. C. T. U. and frequently delivered lectures. On Friday morning, 
September 27th, workmen cleaning out a cellar in Millville borough, five rods 
from the school-house and two miles from East Conemaugh, found a body. 
The feet lay on the wall between Morgan Rees' and J. McGough's cellars, 
the head and trunk hanging down in the former. At the morgue Mr. Bischof 
recognized the features of Mrs. Swineford, the sand and mud having preserved 
the remains wonderfully for fifteen weeks. Besides, he readily identified two 
rings, on one of which was the inscription, "E. S. to A. W., 1888," and the 
clothing and its trimmings, especially some gold braid on the front of the dress. 
He at once started with the body for St. Louis. The protracted search of 
fifteen weeks had succeeded at last. The young brother gives this account of 
his sojourn in Johnstown : 

"My brother-in-law, Ed. Swineford, arrived in Johnstown on June 4th and wired for 
me to come on at once. I arrived on June 7th. At that time there were morgues at Kernville, 
Millville, the Fourth-Ward School-house, the Presbyterian Church and at Morrellville. Mr. 
Swineford instructed me to keep strict watch on all these morgues, to walk from one to another 



SEEKING FOR LOPED ONES. 353 

all day and not get discouraged. On June 16th I got very homesick and left for St. Louis. My 
family took it so hard because of my leaving Johnstown that they started me right back with 
orders to stay until the last ray of hope was gone. On June 27th I went to New Florence to ex- 
amine the morgue records there. I found nothing that would correspond to my sister. On 
Thursday, July nth, about 7:15 p. M., I was at Millville Morgue chatting with the men. Two 
ladies passing by stopped and told the men they thought there was a body in the river at the 
Point. Three of the men and myself went to the place the ladies directed. It was where the 
two streams connect, Conemaugh and Stony Creek. On the opposite bank, under a flooring 
we found the body of a heavy lady. The men had quite a time getting it loose, as a lot of wire 
was entangled about the limbs. After hard work they got it loose, pulled off the flooring and 
turned the face up. I recognized it as that of Mrs. Mary A. Swineford, my brother-in-law's 
mother. Nearly every bone had been broken, the cause of which was that Major Phillips, 
about six o'clock that evening, let off 500 pounds of dynamite within fifty yards of where she 
was found. 

' ' Her open-faced gold watch was found in a very peculiar position. It was imbedded in the 
flesh of her bosom, one-fourth of an inch deep. The hands showed twelve minutes past four 
o'clock. No matter in what position the body was placed the watch would not fall out. 

"I had the body washed and then wired her son, Howard Swineford, of Richmond, Va. , 
who in turn wired for me to have his mother buried until fall. I wrote, telling him the ad- 
vantage of having it shipped at once, and received a telegram to have the body embalmed and 
enclosed in a metallic casket. 

"I left Johnstown with the body on July 16th, arriving in Richmond next after- 
noon, and returned on July 20th. On July 22nd I went to Baker's Furnace, eight miles west of 
Johnstown, walking three miles over mountains and ravines to find a family named Griffiths, re- 
ported to have found a peculiar buckle ring. The story was untrue, as Mrs. Griffiths had no such 
article. On July 27th the Johnstown Tribune published a description of all the bodies found at 
Nineveh. One description led me to think the person might be my sister, and I had the body 
exhumed. When the man got the coffin out of the grave and opened the lid, I could not see 
any resemblance to my sister. On July 30th all the morgues were concentrated into one, with 
headquarters at Mr. Henderson's. At this morgue I took full descriptions of all bodies. All 
money, jewelry and valuables I turned over to the committee. 

" On Tuesday evening, August 6th, the report was brought in that two bodies were found 
down on Main and Union streets. The morgue man and myself got on the wagon and drove 
down to the place mentioned, back of Colonel Linton's brick mansion. A flat car had lodged 
there, and under this car two bodies were found covered with rubbish and mud. The men got 
them out, put them in the wagon and drove to the morgue. It was now after six o'clock and we 
went to supper. 

" I came back to the morgue and proceeded to take a description of them. The first thing 
was to have the hands carefully washed for rings. Two rings were taken off one body. I took 
them to where I could see, and to my surprise they proved to be Mrs. E. V. Webber's. I 
knew of the search her sister had made for weeks and was happy to know the body was 
found. No one was about but the morgue man and myself, with five unfortunate dead. It was 
as dark as pitch, with only a small oil lamp for light. This was the most hideous night I ever 
passed in my life. Of the dead, one was murdered, one died of typhoid fever and three were 
flood victims. The size of the morgue was about 8x10 feet. The other body was that of Miss 
Minnie Bracken, of Woodvale 

"T wired Miss Wagner at Harrisburg, and she arrived in Johnstown on August 7th. I 
paid a farewell visit to Commissioner Marshall, of New Florence, on August Sth, and on August 
22d I left for Long Branch for my health, as I was breaking down. I returned to Johnstown 
on September 1st to once more search for my lost sister. From July 30th to September 24th 



354 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

we had found 115 bodies, which I have taken descriptions of myself. I was continually around 
the morgue from eight in the morning to six at night. Every day in the week people used to 
hold their noses as they passed the morgue, but I could never smell anything. I would eat a 
hearty meal, get up, stand over a corpse and take descriptions. I had never done anything 
like it before, and how I did it surprised myself. 

"On September 27th, at two o'clock, my poor sister was found on Iron street, Millville 
Borough. Her head was hanging down in one cellar and her feet in another. The body was 
in remarkably good condition, except that the feet were off. We found them near by. I recog- 
nized her forehead, teeth and dress. Four months of weary searching had ended, and I had the 
body put in a casket to take it with me to St. Louis. My sister was laid in her last resting- 
place, on October 2d. 

" The Johnstown flood has changed the whole course of my life. I was in such a position 
that I could study human nature to perfection. I saw sights that would turn any man with 
ordinary sense or feeling. A young man of nineteen, whose family were swept away, when his 
father's body was found came to the morgue. He did not make any pretense of claiming the 
remains, but asked what had been done with the valuables. He wanted to know what the father 
had in his pockets. The morgue man told him S400 and a gold watch. You should have seen 
how he opened his eyes because the morgue-keeper would not turn over the money to him. 
Such language as he used ! He swore and carried on terribly, but was compelled to bring some 
one who could identify him. When he did they turned over the money and watch to him. He 
never thought of his poor father. This is but one instance. I have seen a dozen girls, who had 
lost all — mother, brother, sister, father — hanging around the depot ' ' mashing " and being out all 
hours of the night with the soldiers. It was enough to disgust anyone. The kindness of many 
people in Johnstown I shall gratefully remember to the close of my life." 

The sad news of the disaster brought back to the old home Johnstowners 
from every point of the compass. Most of these came to seek those who were 
lost from among their friends, and to succor those who were saved. Among the 
early arrivals of former citizens were A. C. Dibert, of South Carolina ; Frank 
Dibert, of Kansas, and Marshall R. Rose, of California. Mr. Alison, a railroad 
engineer, came from Texas to look for the body of his little daughter, who had 
been visiting friends in Woodvale. He remained for weeks, finally returning 
home without finding his darling child's remains. There were scores of 
anxious friends from neighboring towns and counties in search of missing 
relatives. Bodies were found as late as December 24th, with indications 
that more will come to light when Stony Creek is cleaned thoroughly. The 
suspense of these mourning visitors, whose pleading faces were never absent 
from the morgues until hope expired, was one of the most painful features 
of the calamity. 



XXVI. 



LIGHTS AND SHADOWS. 



Hosts of Bogus Sufferers Making Capital Out of the Calamity — Impostors and Pre- 
tenders Unmasked — Two Rascals Receive Their Just Desert — Exaggerations 
Exploded — A Mean Specimen of Mankind — Three Sisters Cheated — Silver .Lin- 
ing to the Cloud — Noble Conduct — Aftermath of the Deluge — Bits of Drift- 
wood that Reflect Various Qualities of Character — A Variety of Odds and 
Ends Rescued from the Wreck for the Public Benefit. 




" I was at Johnstown," said the tramp- 
Said the lady, " say no more. 
Just come right in out of the damp, 

For here is food galore." 
And when the hot, abundant meal 
Had warmed the fellow's blood, 
" I was at Johnstown," he remarked, 
"Six months before the flood! " 



UT OF THE calamity hosts of pretenders, impostors and 
knaves of every stripe endeavored to make- capital. 
Ragged tramps assumed a woe-begone expression as they 
solicited alms, claiming the}' had suffered at Johnstown. 
Beggars told piteous tales of families swallowed up and 
property wiped out by the flood. Fellows were often 
encountered in traveling who, according to their blood- 
curdling version, had seen more people go down to death 
than would constitute the entire population of the Cone- 
maugh Valley. Others posed as life-savers to a degree 
that rendered it marvelous how anybody could have been 
lost. The thrilling recitals poured into the ears of ready 
listeners, eager for information of the disaster, would 
" i was at johnstown." discount the Arabian Nights and relegate Baron Mun- 
chausen to obscurity. Ananias was a tyro in deception, contrasted with these 
wholesale dealers in unadulterated falsehoods. Human nature displayed all im- 
aginable phases, presenting the strangest and strongest contradictions. Deeds 



356 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

of heroism stood side by side with despicable acts which disgraced the race. 
Generosity the grandest and most ennobling found itself confronted by self- 
ishness that might shame the meanest wretch on God's footstool. Virtue of 
the highest excellence had to contend with crime of the lowest type. Yet the 
balance is largely on the right side of the account, showing a splendid surplus 
in favor of the good, the true and the elevating. 

Two weeks after the flood, on a train from Philadelphia to New York, a 
portly man in shabby attire treated the passengers to a vivid narrative of his 
exploits and adventures at Johnstown. Men gathered around him as he told 
of people he had rescued at imminent risk. Sobs choked his utterance when 
he described how his wife and child slipped from his grasp and perished at the 
railroad bridge. The hearers admired his bravery and lamented his afflictions. 
Like Desdemona with Othello, the ladies "loved him for the dangers he had 
passed." He said he had received a suit of clothes and a ticket from South 
Fork to New York, where a brother lived. Someone proposed a collection for 
the sufferer's benefit, and hands dived into pockets instantly. It occurred to 
me to test his acquaintance with the locality. The fellow knew not a person 
or place in Johnstown, and was obliged to confess himself a base pretender. 
The haste he exhibited in getting out of the car was not equalled by any of the 
passengers in their hurried exit from the fatal Day Express at East Cone- 
maugh. The climax spoiled a dramatic tale, but it convinced the amused 
spectators that strangers are not always angels or — " Johnstown sufferers." 

A sprightly youth wandered to the home of the Misses Kilgore, three aged 
sisters near Greensburg, and told a harrowing story of his sufferings during 
the flood. He had to climb from roof to roof and saved himself at last by 
catching hold of a tree. "Sonny," as the spinsters called him, was hired to 
be the chore-boy about the place. They rigged him out in a new suit and he 
was getting along swimmingly. He had the promise that when school com- 
menced they would furnish him with books and a good home. But " Sonny " 
did not appreciate these kindnesses. He awaited an opportunity to get hold 
of their pocket-book and appropriate at least the loose change. One night he 
stole $125 and decamped, without leaving either his name or address. 

A woman at Lansing, Mich., created a stir last October by declaring her 
mother was the notorious Mrs. Bender, the Kansas murderess. This fairy 
story led to the arrest of both women, who were taken to Kansas as prisoners. 
There it was shown that the daughter, who wanted free transportation west- 
ward, had been duping Ohio people by claiming to be a Johnstown widow, 
whose husband perished in the flood ! . . 

On the fatal evening a young lady, who was rescued and taken into the 
Club House, removed her drenched clothing and attired herself in a pair of 
pants belonging to a male guest. The owner of the trowsers hunted every 
place for the garments, finalry learning what had become of them. He de- 



LIGHTS AND SHADOWS. 



357 



manded exorbitant payment for the pants, and the young lady forwarded him 
the amount. The name of this mean libel on humanity deserves unstinted 
execration. 

One day in June a stranger entered the Pennsylvania Railroad station at 
Harrisburg, walked up to the news-stand and engaged the agent in conversa- 
tion. Photographs of the wrecked district lay on the counter. Pointing to 
one, a view on Main street, in which two residents of Harrisburg figured, he 
remarked that the gentleman in the fore-ground was his brother and the other 




VIEW ON MAIN STREET, JOHNSTOWN, BETWEEN CLINTON AND FRANKLIN 

was a friend. Both had been lost with their families and homes. Then he 
rehearsed his own hardships and sorrows, presenting a statue of despair as 
he told of his children's doom. The agent smiled blandly and answered that 
he was astonished to hear of the demise of the two citizens in the view, as they 
were his own neighbors and he had talked with one that day ! The abrupt 
departure of the cheeky hypocrite from the premises would have discounted 
Mahomet's hegria ! 

Notwithstanding the destruction wrought by the flood, Cupid was not 
daunted. Harry Swank and Miss Sarah E. Hartzell had set Wednesday, 
June 5th, as the day on which they would be married. Mr. Swank was at the 
house of his prospective bride's parents on Friday, attending to preliminaries 



358 THE STOR V OF JOHNSTO WN. 

for the wedding. The water rose so that he could not leave and the house was 
moved away. The bride's wardrobe was badly damaged and the groom's was 
destroyed by the wrecking of his father's house. When Wednesday, the wed- 
ding-day, arrived, they went to Somerset, were married, and returned in the 
afternoon. The town still had heart enough in it to congratulate Miss Angie 
Fockler and John Henry Levy on their marriage. Long before the flood Miss 
Fockler and Mr. Levy were friends, if not lovers. Something separated them. 
After knocking about for a time Mr. Levy settled in the West, while Miss 
Fockler lived on alone. Then came the flood. Mr. Levy was in the East at 
the time. What more natural than that, under such conditions, he should 
offer his protecting care ? To be sure ! And what did he do but just tuck her 
under his arm, march her off to the City of Brotherly and Sisterly Love, and 
marry her almost before she knew it ! The marriage of Edward C. Creager, 
of Hancock, to Miss Adele Webster, of Philadelphia, took place in that city 
on Dec. 15th. There was a little romance connected with this happy union. 
Mr. Creager met his bride for the first time when he rescued her from drown- 
ing in the mad waters on the ill-fated 31st of May. 

"Whistle for land! Whistle for land !" was the half -delirious cry of a 
girl on a roof floating down Stony Creek. The impromptu raft sailed back 
again with its screaming passenger, who landed at Kernville in a very limp 
condition. 

A dozen sheep on a barn-floor got almost to the stone bridge safely, when 
the grinding mass destroyed their frail support and the bleating voyagers sank 
in the dark waters. 

A resident of the Point, obliged on Friday forenoon to seek a higher lati- 
tude, had to swim some distance. A rat floated near him on a bit of board. 
His first impulse was to upset the rodent into the current, but he concluded to 
give it a chance for life and the animal drifted along unmolested. 

No object inspired so much' terror as the Unique Rink. This building, 
about 150 by 75 feet, moved from its foundation on Somerset street, Kernville, 
ploughed its way through other buildings to Grubtown, then returned in the 
current to repeat its work, and finally was wrecked itself. 

It is a noticeable fact that the only sections of the Cambria Iron Com- 
pany's railway that could be found along the banks of the Conemaugh below 
Morrellville were those in which iron ties had been substituted for the old 
wooden ones. 

Scott Dibert's horse was found two days after the flood up to his neck in 
mud behind Lambert & Kress' ale brewery. The animal was dug out, cleaned 
up, and returned to his owner unharmed. 

In many parts of the flooded districts where the water scattered oats 
there appeared blades measuring four to five inches in length. In the 
Sunday-school room of the English Lutheran Church so much earth and seed 



LIGHTS AND SHADOWS. 359 

had been deposited that a green bed sprouted. A South Side gentleman, who 
rescued his wife's hat from a wash-stand, stated that the young crop of oats 
above the mud was its prettiest adornment. 

A citizen who survived the flood has two fine puppies, born on a mass of 
floating stuff the day of the calamity and rescued with their mother. The ani- 
mals are highly valued for their remarkable experience, which is not a common 
one with canine animals. 

Harry W. Slick has an interesting relic — the machinery of a large music- 
box, which can be wound up, and will play a number of tunes. 

Foster Walter, an engineer on the Cambria and Somerset branch, had a 
unique and tough experience. He was in the American House and succeeded 
in getting on the roof, where he stayed all night. A mule came floating down 
and lodged on the roof beside him. The animal stayed with Walter all night 
and both were rescued in the morning. 

Two brothers from Clearfield county were among the first to respond to 
the appeal for help from afflicted Johnstown. They worked upon the streets, 
but had not helped much when it struck them that they would help themselves 
a little. They appropriated a large amount of clothing and returned home, 
where the}' built up a trade in that line. A customer informed the Johnstown 
oEcials that the brothers were selling clothing that had been sent to the suf- 
ferers. A constable arrested them and they went to jail. 

A few days after General Hastings assumed charge, a boy of five summers 
appeared at his headquarters. The urchin was hatless, coatless, ragged and 
extremely dirty. He told a melting tale of parents, brothers, sisters and home 
lost. The General ordered him to be scrubbed and attired in a new suit, fed 
him and put him to sleep in his own cot. The little waif said he had slept 
three nights under the freight-shed in a pile of old straw. In his new outfit 
he looked bright and became a favorite. Going to the relief station, he walked 
around consequentially and bossed the job generally. A woman in the line of 
applicants caught sight of him and screamed : 

"Sam, you young rascal, come out of that this blessed minute !" 

The officers were paralyzed by this demand, and the woman explained 
that Sam was her nephew, who had run off a week before and was believed to 
have fallen into the river and drowned. The crest-fallen boy was marched 
home at a two-ten pace, but the curtain will be drawn on the subsequent 
proceedings. 

A huge cylinder of compressed tanbark from Rosensteel's Woodvale tan- 
ner}', about eight feet high and ten feet in diameter, was carried to the corner 
of Vine and Franklin streets. The iron hoops burst and the wooden staves 
fell away, but the cylinder was an impressive monument to the power and 
eccentricities of the great flood. 

The woolen factory of Bryon & Son, Kernville, came out of the flood with- 



360 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

out any material injury, only to be destroyed by fire the next Tuesday. 
Sparks from a neighboring bonfire ignited some inflammable material on the 
upper floor, which kindled a blaze that was not subdued until the interior of 
the factory was completely burned out. 

The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Company was caught severely. Its cars 
cropped out from beneath many piles of wreckage in the streets, and others 
dotted the bed of Stony Creek from the Sandyvale Cemetery to the Point. 
Some of them were recovered in a demoralized condition, but the majority 
were fit only for the bonfire. A loaded box-car was deposited on the sidewalk 
in front of the Parke Opera House, Main street. This building was the scene 
of a terrible tragedy on the evening of December gth. While "Uncle Tom's 
Cabin " was in progress an alarm of fire was shouted. The audience struggled 
to the narrow stairway which afforded the sole means of egress, and ten per- 
sons were killed in the mad crush. 

The railroad bridge, which held back the flood, is a massive piece of 
masonry. In a general way it is built of cut sandstone blocks of unusual size, 
the whole nearly four hundred feet long, forty feet wide, and averaging about 
forty feet deep. Seven arches of about fifty feet span are pierced through it, 
rising within a few feet of the top from solid piers down to the rock beneath. 
As the bridge crosses the stream diagonally, the arches pierce the mass in a 
slanting direction, which adds to the heavy appearance of the structure. 
There has been some disposition to find fault with the bridge for being so 
strong, the idea being that if it had gone out there would have been no heap- 
ing up of buildings behind it, no fire and fewer deaths. There were hundreds 
of persons saved when their houses were stopped against the bridge by climb- 
ing out or being helped out. If the bridge had gone the flood would have taken 
the whole instead of only one-third of Cambria City. 

John F. Griffith, one of the trustees of the Welsh Baptist Church, and T. 
E. Morgan searched among the ruins of the edifice, which had been carried 
from its site on Main street to the rear of Colonel Linton's residence. They 
found the communion set whole and uninjured, together with two bottles of 
communion wine; also the Sunday-school contribution-box with the money in 
it, and a large Welsh Bible in good order. The Sunday-school books were 
wet but clean, and in a state so that they could be preserved. 

In the rubbish near the stone bridge was a freight car, banged and shat- 
tered, with a hole stove in its side. One of the workmen got into the car and 
found a framed and glazed picture of the Saviour. It was resting against the 
side of the car, right side up, and neither frame nor glass injured. When the 
incident was noised about the workmen dropped their pickaxes and ran to 
look at the picture, reverently taking off their hats. 

William Poulson, a member of the opera house orchestra, lost his slide 
trombone when his house on Water street went with the flood. The house 



LIGHTS AND SHADOWS. 361 

floated to the back of Dibert street, where Mr. Poulson found the trombone 
secure and uninjured in its leather case. All other property in the house was 
destroyed. 

On the body of Mr. Kimple, the furniture dealer, of whose store not a 
brick remained, a roll of bills was found containing $3,100. 

Much sympathy was expended on "the Paul Revere of Johnstown," as 
the papers styled a young man whom they called Daniel Periton. He was 
represented as a hero who rode through the streets warning people that the 
dam had burst and to fly for their lives, until the flood overtook him. Horse 
and rider were buried under a mass of rubbish. The story was rehearsed in 
this fashion : 

"A Paul Revere lies somewhere among the dead. Who he is is now known, and his ride 
will be famous in history. Mounted on a grand, big bay horse, he came riding down the pike 
which passes through Conemaugh to Johnstown, like some angel of wrath of old, shouting his 
warning : ' Run for your lives to the hills ! Run to the hills !' The people crowded out of their 
houses along the thickly settled streets, awestruck and wondering. No one knew the man, and 
some thought he was a maniac, and laughed. On and on, at a deadly pace, he rode, and shrilly 
rang out his awful cry. In a few moments, however, there came a cloud of ruin down the 
broad streets, down the narrow alleys, grinding, twisting, hurling, overturning, crashing — an- 
nihilating both weak and strong. It was the charge of the flood, rearing its coronet of ruin and 
devastation, which grew at every instant of its progress. Forty feet high, some say, thirty ac- 
cording to others, was this sea ; it traveled with a swiftness like that which lay in the heels of 
Mercury. On and on raced the rider, on and on rushed the waters. Dozens of people took 
heed of the warning and ran up to the hills. Poor, faithful rider, it was an unequal contest ! 
Just as he turned across the railroad bridge the mighty wall fell upon him, and horse, rider and 
bridge all went out into chaos together. A few feet further on several cars on the Pennsylvania 
Railroad train from Pittsburgh were caught up and hurried into the caldron, and the heart of 
the town was reached. The hero had turned neither to right nor left for himself, bnt rode on 
to death for his townsmen. He was overwhelmed by the current at the bridge, and drowned. 
A party of searchers found the body of this man and his horse. He was still in the saddle. 
In a short time the man was identified as Daniel Periton, son of a merchant of Johnstown, a 
young man of remarkable courage. He is no longer the unknown hero, for the name of Daniel 
Periton will live in fame as long as the history of the Johnstown disaster is remembered." 

No such event took place, no person named Periton ever lived in or near 
Johnstown, no dead rider was found "still in the saddle" and the incident is 
as pure a fiction as Sinbad's voyage through the air on the back of the 
monstrous roc ! A Chicago divine was one of the army of poetasters who 
sought to embalm the alleged ride in glowing hexameters. His production 
was published in a Chicago paper and attracted favorable notice from its in- 
trinsic merit and the nature of the subject. The author enclosed a copy in a 
letter to Mrs. John A. Logan, widow of the noted soldier and statesman, ask- 
ing her to send it to the Governor of Pennsylvania with a request for him to 
secure its insertion in a history of the flood he had learned a citizen of Harris- 
burg was writing. Mrs. Logan kindly forwarded the clergyman's letter and 
poem, stating how they had been sent to her, and the Governor informed me 



362 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

of the correspondence. The funniest part of the transaction was a postcript 
to the letter in these words : 

" Since printing the poem I have been told that the incident on which it is founded did not 
occur at all !" 

The ten letter-carriers on July 10th received the first contribution of 
money sent them by their fellow carriers. It was from the carriers in Omaha, 
Nebraska, in the shape of a letter with S50 enclosed. The carriers lost their 
uniforms and personal property and some of them their families. Each man 
wrote a sketch of his personal experience in the flood while delivering mail 
matter, and sent it to the Omaha brethren as a memento. 

On Market street, south of Lincoln, the tank of Pennsylvania Railroad 
engine No. 229 was dumped. It was one of the destructive forces of the flood, 
having been seen demolishing the frame house of Henry Pritchard and the 
brick residence of Eben James, while it also wrecked the house of Mr. Reese, 
beside which it stranded. So close to it that they at first sight appeared to be 
coupled was a freight car, and a little farther another. The contractor who 
cleared up Market street burned five cars. This lead to the conclusion that 
all these constituted part of a freight train that was washed away from East 
Conemaugh, the parts of which detached by coming in contact with buildings 
on the street. 

The flood carried a cow down from some point above Moxham and she 
struck against a pier of the dislodged Poplar street bridge. Securing a foot- 
hold on the pier, she stood there a while, but finally made a mis-step, fell into 
the current and was drowned. 

The lights were well-nigh lost in the dense cloud of shadows ! 




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XXVII. 



WHAT OF THE FUTURE ? 



The Destruction by the Flood Does Not Mean Perpetual Ruin — The First Signs of 
Renovation — Starting the Iron Works and Steel Mills — Invincible Determina- 
tion of the Citizens — Men of Resolute Will Who Would Not Desert the Old 
Home — Consolidating the Boroughs Into a City — An Electric Railway — Spread- 
ing Over the Hills — The New Johnstown Will Be Grander and Greater Than 
the One Blotted Out by the Deluge in i88g. 



" But he looked upon the city, even- side 

Favored wide ; 
All the mountains topped with temples, all the glades 

Colonnades, 
All the causeways, bridges, aqueducts — and then 

All the men." — Browning. 




'ITH NO FOOD, no shelter, no clothing, no 
railroad or telegraphic communication, the 
outlook for Johnstown immediately after the 
flood was indeed gloomy. But those who knew 
the character of the community did not despair 
of its future. The flood had made sad breaks 
in the ranks of enterprising citizens, yet enough 
substantial men remained to guarantee the 
speedy resurrection of the town. Chicago is 
greater and richer than before the fire, Charles- 
ton did not abide in the ruins of the earthquake, 
Jacksonville has recovered from the effects of 
the pestilence and Johnstown will rise again. 
Though stunned and shaken, the industrial cen- 
ter possessed amazing vitality. The people soon began to advance coura- 
geously towards entire restoration. Leaving the dead past, freighted with ex- 



FIRST RUILDING AFTER THE FLOOD. 



366 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

periences that will be of infinite value as a guide hereafter, the survivors rose 
to deal with the living present and face manfully a future which their own ex- 
ertions would crown with promise and beaut}'. 

The assurance of a new era of prosperity was to be found most of all in 
the continuation of the great industries that had been the main-springs of 
growth and success in the past. The Cambria Iron Company bent its ener- 
gies to get the works in condition to resume operations at the earliest moment. 
The services of ever}' man remaining who had been in its employ were de- 
manded. It announced its intention to replace the Gautier mill and put up 
new houses for the employes who had lost theirs. Progressive residents pro- 
posed to incorporate a number of the boroughs into one city, thus doing away 
with a half-dozen different municipal organizations, managed by councils 
which often conflicted with each other. This decided improvement has been 
carried out and a charter granted for a city of sixteen wards. Excepting a very 
small number of drones, who wanted the outside world to do everything for 
them, the people showed an admirable spirit of determination and self-reliance. 
They felt keenly their terrible misfortune, yet did not propose to sit idly by 
and subsist on the charity that poured in so lavishly from every quarter. The 
true "get-up-and-get " quality was manifested almost universally, than which 
no surer indication could be desired of the successful revival of business and 
complete rebuilding of the wasted boroughs. Dr. Andrew Yeagley, whose 
house was taken away, standing on its ruins, voiced the general sentiment in 
saying : 

"I lived here happily for twenty-five years. God willing, I'll live here twenty-five years 
more, or till I die !" 

The first building — if such it may be termed — put up after the deluge was 
a cigar-stand on the corner of Main and Jackson streets. The proprietor 
skirmished among the debris for pieces of boards, out of which he constructed 
ashed the dimensions of a hen-coop. This was on Monday, June 3rd. Standing 
on a barrel in the ruins of his old store, another dealer had a brand-new nickel- 
plated show-case full of the ten-cents-a-half-dozen "stogies." It was funny, 
right in the wreckage, without any front to his building and the building itself 
on one side, to see one of the barbers, who had fished out and put together 
one of his chairs and brightened a razor and pair of shears found in the wreck. 
He was hard at work on Monday cutting the hair and shaving some of the in- 
'consolable widowers of the place. Hardly was he out of the water himself 
before he was at the morgue shaving the male corpses as they arrived. Work 
in shaving the dead becoming a trifle dull, he started to try his hand again 
on the living. Close at hand the Freie Presse people were trying to get their 
type out of " pi. " Williams & Specht and five or six other firms in the same 
square were propping things up and making repairs. Almost every man who 
had not deserted the place, and who had the heart to do it, got hold of a 



WHAT OF THE FUTURE? 367 

hatchet and started to knock away the ragged edges or dismantled portions of 
his ruined home and put up a temporary shelter. The ring of the hammer and 
nails was soon heard on ever}' side. In different parts of the town pieces of 
paper and cards were fastened on broomsticks and stuck in the dirt piles, tell- 
ing that this was the site of somebody's store who meant to rebuild and go on 
again. Very often the nature of the business formerly carried on might be 
learned at a glance by the character of the rubbish. Occasionally some one 
became facetious in defying fate, and one man had on his placard : 

' ' On top. Floods don't stop me ! " 
People imbued with such a spirit can no more be kept down than steam 
will stop rising because the safety-valve is weighted. The work of clearing the 
town went on. Everybody not chronically lazy was busy. Wagons full of 
mud rumbled over the streets towards the river, and tired men with picks in 
their hands stood aside and wiped their faces as they made room for them to 
pass. Faces had a more cheerful expression and the tone of the conversa- 
tion was less despondent than at first. A determination to make the best of 
everything predominated. The sky brightened and the dark clouds dispersed 
as each day witnessed some addition in the direction of solid progress. The 
Cambria Iron Works were running as usual by June 24th, and an army of men 
were restoring the Gautier Mills. The Johnson Company, which employed 
one thousand men or more making steel and steel rails, rebuilt its Woodvale 
branch at Moxham, giving steady employment to all the force who survived. 
On June 14th all members of the Council of Woodvale who did not perish met 
President George B. Roberts to ask him about connecting them by rail with 
the rebuilt portion of the Pennsylvania Railroad. There was a tiny bit of a 
street railway, a little patch of paved street and a curbstone. Around this 
curbstone they met. Of what was once a thriving and populous town of three 
thousand souls, with factories, tanneries, halls, stores and snug dwellings, 
the curbstone was the only remnant left, and around this they proposed to 
build. With absolutely nothing in sight these men were providing for the 
future exigencies of the restored manufacturing center that in their minds they 
had already located on the ruined waste. Mr. S. S. Marvin, of the Flood 
Commission, outlined the situation on July 22d, when he remarked to a news-* 
paper correspondent : 

' ' The whole town is once more upon its feet, and it is certainly a matter for congratulation. 
There has not been a hitch of any kind between the members of the various relief committees, 
and the wisdom of conservative management of the relief funds has become so clearly apparent 
that there is no complaint to be heard anywhere Another indication of the approach of self- 
reliance of the people is in the matter of bread. At one time we were sending from twenty 
thousand to thirty thousand pounds of bread daily to Johnstown. To-day we sent one thousand 
pounds, and to-night I received a telegram stating that to-morrow, for the first time since the 
flood, no bread would be required, but to send one thousand pounds on Wednesday This 
indicates that five hundred pounds of bread per diem is now considered ample as the outside 



368 THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

supply. In every other respect there is as much progress to be noted, and the city of Johns- 
town is as nearly as possible once more upon its feet." 

The number of men who owned their homes was surprisingly large. 
They had a direct financial interest in the speedy restoration of the district, 
which the liberality of the world outside assisted greatly in promoting. Man- 
kind knows what Johnstown had been. In the relics of the panorama of in- 
dustrial enterprise and domestic prosperity the toiling laborers worked with 
dogged persistence to clear the way for the rebuilding of the newer, better 
town that must come eventually. The pretty park, where trees bloomed and 
the grass was fresh and green as the Emerald Isle, was converted into a lodg- 
ing-place for as many frames as could be crowded along its four sides. The}' 
were occupied at once — stores and shops down-stairs, offices on the second 
floor — and the cry was "more." The distribution of the relief funds by the 
Flood Commission helped hundreds to resume the thread of trade which the 
flood had snapped off. Already the street-car system is in process of transition 
to a motor line, with electricity for its propelling force. The town is bustling 
with projects looking towards growth and improvement. An inclined rail- 
road will run from a point opposite the mouth of Conemaugh Creek to the 
plateau five hundred feet above, which will be covered with workingmen's 
homes before the snow flies next autumn. Fine hotels have been planned and 
will be put up in the spring. The newspapers — these infallible indexes of 
the intelligence and thought of a community — are brighter than ever, and 
their columns teem with advertisements. The huge works are running full- 
handed, three turns every twenty-four hours, and wages paid in cash twice a 
month. For six months Johnstown has had more ready money than any place 
of equal size in Pennsylvania. There are scores of sufferers who will need 
permanent assistance, but the grand work of the nations for the Conemaugh 
Valley is substantially over. The wondrous beneficence, the grandest justifica- 
tion of the philosophy of modern life, has practically ended. With the flames 
of ceaseless industry lighting her sky, the fires of her furnaces burning con- 
tinually, Johnstown looks forward hopefully. 

Estimating the property loss at $10,000,000, besides one-third as much 
for the railroads and the Cambria Iron Company, the recuperative power of 
the sufferers is certainly remarkable. Consolidating the boroughs into a city 
will introduce changes that must prove highly beneficial. The deluge has 
drowned sectional animosities and local jealousies, which had engendered 
wranglings and retarded progress for many years. Now every man is more of 
a cosmopolitan, who appreciates, the value of concentrated effort to advance 
the public welfare. Visitors like Congressmen McKinley, of Ohio, and the 
Rev. Dr. Talmage, of Brooklyn, did not fail to observe and commend the 
kindly, spirited feeling animating men and women whom the flood had 
beggared. They understood its significance and knew that it meant Johns- 



WHAT OF THE FUTURE? 369 

town was not to be buried perpetually. True, tbere were blighted hopes, 
wrecked fortunes and ruined homes, yet over all might be written the inspiring 
Resurgam that foretells a speedy resurrection. 

Look ahead a decade, to the beginning of the twentieth century. Ten 
years have done wonders in transforming the blasted, wasted, desolate rem- 
nants of a half-dozen boroughs into a busy and beautiful city. Congress acted 
liberally in 1890, granting an appropriation which widened and deepened the 
streams sufficiently to render floods a tradition only. The low grounds have 
been raised and on them stores and factories have a solid habitation. Paved 
streets are lined with rows of stately business blocks, heated by steam and lit 
by electricity. Along Conemaugh Creek runs a broad thoroughfare, the favorite 
drive and promenade of the citizens, who seek its shaded sidewalks and 
asphalt pavement for delightful sauntering and carriage-rides. Electric cars 
convey passengers to every quarter of the city and suburbs. The great Iron 
Works have doubled their capacity and new industries have trebled the wealth 
and trade and population of a dozen years before. Inclined railroads bring 
the hills within easy reach, enabling the merchants and the workmen, the 
laborers and the shop-girls, to reach the highest spot in a few moments. The 
flats have been given over wholly to business, the homes going up on the 
plateaus where the air is pure as the smile of an infant when the angels whis- 
per to it in its slumber. Children play in pleasant parks, and unsightly build- 
ings are nowhere visible. The sharpest eye can detect no sign of the flood of 
1889, save the graves and monuments in the cemetery, the granite shaft in the 
public square and the tablets on buildings at the high-water mark. The dream 
of Joseph Johns has been richly, grandly realized, for a court-house adorns the 
lot designed for such a structure at the birth of the humble settlement which 
has become a lordly city. 

Enter one of the homes that look so cosy and inviting. It is the tenth 
anniversary of the flood. The day has been observed as one of religious 
solemnity. Visits have been made to the cemetery and flowers scattered on 
the graves of those whose lives went out amid the wreck and ruin of May 31st, 
1889. The family whose threshold we cross has had a part in this pious duty. 
The children cling to their sire and ask questions which bring back a host of 
recollections. Their serious faces express the interest the}' feel in the words 
that fall from the father's lips. There is a tremor in his voice and a tear glis" 
tens in his eye as he repeats the names of kindred and acquaintances who 
perished on that unforgotten Friday afternoon. The twilight deepens and the 
shades of evening gather. He had rescued some of the listeners from the 
deluge, while yet too young to understand what had occurred, but some had 
sunk beneath the dark waters. Memory is busy picturing it all over again. 
The scene is as real as the shadows cast by the flickering embers in the grate. 
The young brood draw yet closer to the fond parent, who tells once more the 



37o THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 

tale of sorrow that has left deep scars in his soul. Visions of the disaster 
float through his brain, recalling the perils and struggles of the dreadful hour 
which, like Banquo's ghost, "will not down." Before him rise the forms of 
friends and neighbors over whom the grass has grown and the snows of many 
winters have drifted. Voices wont to thrill him with ecstacy, whose slightest 
murmur was sweet music to his ears, he hears as in the days gone by. Hands 
long turned to dust clasp his as they did ere these wrinkles were on his brow, 
these streaks of silver in his hair, these cankering wounds in his heart. How 
vivid and life-like it all seems as he leans back in his chair and gives free 
rein to remembrances of the flood ! 

" For the mossy marbles rest 
On the lips that he has pressed 

In their bloom ; 
And the names he loved to hear 
Have been carved for many a year 

On the tomb." 

Then he goes to his well-stocked library, selects a book that he treasures 
next to his dead wife' s Bible — somehow it was saved when his house moved 
off — and reads to the little assemblage clustering around his knee a chapter 
from "The Story of Johnstown." 




APPENDIX. 



Names of Victims of the Johnstown Flood of May 31, 1889, whose Bodies were Found 
and Identified, as compiled from the Official Records of the Different Morgues. 



Andersonjohn. 
Adams, Henry Clay. 
Alexander, John G. 
Alexander, Mrs. John G. 
Alexander, Auralia. 
Akers, Alvar. 
Arthur, Mrs. William. 
Albetter, Miss. 
Atkinson, John. 
Aubrey, Thomas. 



Andrews, John, Sr. 
Abler, August. 
Abler, Miss Louisa. 
Abler, George. 
Abler, Louis. 
Abler, Lulu. 
Abler, Lena. 
Anderson, Samuel. 
Aubley, Kate. 
Alberter, Mrs. Teresa. 



Alberter, Annie. 
Alt, George. 
Alt, Mrs. George. 
Allison, Florence. 
Amps, Mr. 
Amps, Mrs. 
Amps, Mary. 
Aaron, Mrs. H. B. 
Aaron, son of Mrs. H. B. 



Briukey, Elmer. 
Burns, John. 
Baldwin, George. 
Barbor, Harry S. 
Brown, Peter. 
Brown, Sadie. 
Brown, Emma. 
Butler, Sarah A. 
Bogus, William. 
Bending, Jessie. 
Bending, Elizabeth. 
Barrett, James. 
Benford, Mrs. E. E. 
Benford, son of Mrs. E. E. 
Benford, Jennie or Jessie. 
Brown, Mrs. (colored.) 
Bruhm, Claus. 
Bryan, Elizabeth M. 
Burkhart, Mrs. Mollie. 
Boyer, Solomon. 
Blougb, Emanuel. 
Buchanan, John S. 
Buchanan, R. L. 
Beam, Charles. 
Beam, Dr. L. T. 
Bishof, Charles. 
Barley, Viola. 

Bowman, . 

Baker, Mrs. Nelsou. 
Brennan, Mrs. Edward. 
Brennan, Mary. 
Brennan, . 



Brennan, . 

Brennan, . 

Brennan, . 

Bowman, Nellie. 
Brady, John. 
Bantly, William. 
Bryan, William. 
Barnes, Lizzie. 
Brinker, Miss. 
Bricker, Henry. 
Bickley, D. E. 
Brinkey, Dr. G. C. 
Benshoff, Arthur. 
BenshofF, J. Q. A. 
Blair, Mrs. 
Behuke, Charles. 
Beam, Dr. W. C. 
Beam, Mrs. W. C. 
Butler, Charles F. 
Benford, Maria. 
Benford, May. 
Bates, Mrs. Annie. 
Beck, Mrs. William. 
Bracken, Kate. 
Bracken, Minnie. 
Bopp, Mamie. 
Bitner, A. B. 
Bowers, George. 
Bair, Rosa. 
Bridges, Emma. 
Boyle, Charles. 
Brawley, John. 



Benson, son of Reuben. 
Boyle, Thomas. 
Bishop, Julius. 
Bagley, William. 
Bradley, Thomas. 
Baumer, Littie. 
BenshofF, Adam. 
Bantly, Mrs. William. 
Bantly, child of William. 
Bowman, Charles. 
Brindle, Mollie. 
Byrne, Ella. 
Brawley, Maggie. 
Brawley, George. 
Brawley, Jacob. 
Buchanan, Kate J. 
Bending, Mrs. 
Byers, Catherine. 
Burket, Frank. 
Brown, peter. 
Barley, Mrs. 
Bradly, Mrs. Eliza. 
Beam, Roscoe. 
Bopp, Jacob. 
Bloch, Louisa. 
Benigh, John C. 
Bairg, Charles. 
Boehler, Annie. 
Barker, Mrs. Ed. 
Brady, Mrs. J. 
Bopp, Monacia. 
Bunting, Mrs. 



374 



THE STOR \ ' OF JOHNSTO JVM 



Constable, Phillip. 
Clark, Mrs. J. B. 
Cronin, Daniel. 
Cox, James G. 
Carlin, Jonathan. 
Carroll, Thomas. 
Campbell, Peter. 
Christman, Mrs. A. C. 
Christie, A. C. 
Conmors, Mrs. Mary. 
Craig, J. J. 
Craig, Mrs. J. J. 
Cooper, Otho. 
Cunz, Robbie. 
Cunz, Lydia. 
Coad, John. 
Coad, Mrs. John. 



Coad, Willie. 
Carroll, Rosie. 
Cullen, Annie. 
Clark, Thomas. 
Cornielson, Maggie. 
Constable, Mrs. 
Clark, Mrs. Owen. 
Craig, Mrs. Catharine. 
Corr, Mrs. Sarah P. 
Creed, David. 
Cope, Mrs. Margaret. 
Coleman, Jessie. 
Craig, Christopher. 
Craig, Annie. 
Culliton, Mrs. Frank. 
Cooper, Mrs. (colored.) 
Cush, Mrs. P. 



Cush, P., Sr. 
Couthamer, Mr. 
Cush, Joseph. 
Cush, J. Daniel. 
Curry, Robert B. 
Coby, Mrs. Eliza. 
Chinaman. 
Chinaman. 
Casey, William. 
Custer, W. H. 
Clark, J. H. 
Creed, Eliza. 
Cadugan. Mrs. William. 
Cadugan, Annie. 
Cole, John. 



Devlin, Lizzie. 
Degnan, Mrs. John. 
Davis, Thomas. 
Driscoll, Jessie. 
Delancy, Mrs. 
Dougherty, Mary. 
Davis, Mrs. Aaron. 
Davis, Mrs. Phillip. 
Dobbins, Mrs. J. R. 
Davis, M. L. 
Davis, Mary. 
Dimond, Frank. 
De France, Mrs. H. T. 
Dunn, Mary. 
Diehl, Carrie. 
Dillon, James. 
Dibert, John. 
Dibert, Blanche. 
Downey, Mrs. Mary. 
Davis, Frank. 



Drew, Mrs. Mary. 
Downs, Teresa. 
Dixon, Mrs. R. 
Dyer, Mrs. 
Davis, Mrs. Walter. 
Davis, Miss Delia. 
Dernia, August. 
Davis, William L- 
Davis, Clara. 
DeWald, Charles. 
Dimond, Mrs. Ann. 
Diller, Rev. A. P. 
Diller, Isaac 
Diller, Mrs. Marion. 
Dinant, Lola. 
Daley, F.J. 
Davis, Frederick. 
Dovvling, Mrs. M. 
Dowling, Catharine. 
Diller, Julia. 



Duncan, Mrs Dr. 
Downs, Thomas. 
Downs, Mrs. Catharine. 
Dailey, Mrs. Ann. 
Dolan, Michael. 
Doyle, Maggie. 
Downs, Kate. 
Downs, Teresa. 
Dorris, August. 
Duerk, John. 
Dow, W. F. 
Day, John R. 
Day, daughter of John R. 
Dorsey, John D. 
Dougherty, Maggie. 
Dougherty. Mary. 
Davis, Mrs. Thomas. 
Davis, Reese. 



Ellsaessor, . 

Evans, Mrs. Noah. 
English, John. 
Eager, Annie. 
Eldridge, Abram. 
Eldridge, Samuel. 
Eldridge, Pennell. 



Eskdal, James. 
Evans, Kate. 
Evans, Lizzie. 
Evans, Mrs. 
Evans, Maggie. 
Eck, Lillie. 
Etchison, John. 



Evans, Luke. 
Evans, Daisy. 
Evans, Herbert. 
Edwards, Ann R. 
Eck, Mary Ann. 
Eck, Mrs. Mary. 



Fitzharris, John. 
Fitzharris, Christopher. 
Fitzharris, Mrs. Margaret. 
Fitzharris, Sallie. 
Fitzharris, Katie. 
Fitzharris, Christopher, Sr. 
Fitzharris, Mary. 
Fitzharris, daughter .of Chris. 



Faloon, Anne. 
Fronheiser, Mrs. J.J. 
Fronheiser, Bessie. 
Fleagle, Annie. 
Fischer, Wolfgang. 
Fagan, Patrick. 
Fagan, Mrs. P. 
Fagan, daughter of Patrick. 



Fagan, daughter of Patrick. 
Fitzner, Annie. 
Fisher, Noah. 

Fisher, . 

Fisher, George. 
Fisher, Mrs. J. G. 
Fisher, John H. 
.Forbes, Rachael 



APPENDIX. 



375 



Fradler, Elmira. 
Findley, Elvira. 
Fox, Martin. 
Flynn, Man'. 
Ferris, Francis. 
Fritz, Katie. 
Fritz, Maggie. 
Frederick, Mrs. 
Fitzpatrick, Anna. 

Garman, Grace. 
Groff, Mellie Clark. 
Geddes, Paul. 
Geddes, Marion. 
Geddes, George. 
Gill, Willie. 
Greenwood, Gee. 
Given, Jane. 
Given, Benjamin. 
Golde, Mrs. H. 
Greenwood, Jennie. 
Geis, Mrs. 



Horton, Peter. 
Hamilton, child of A. H. 
Hamilton, Alex., Jr. 
Hamilton, Luther. 
Horan. W. B. 
Howells, Mrs. 
Hirsch, Eddie. 
Hoopes, W. E. 
Howard, James. 
Hughes, Mary. 
Hughes, Maggie. 
Hurst, Nathaniel. 
Hess, W. B. 
Howells, Win. 
Hester, Mrs. 
Hammer, Mr. 
Hankey, Mrs. 
Hamilton, Laura. 
Henry, Wm. (colored.) 
Halleran, Mrs. 
Halleran, May. 
Harris, Frank. 
Holfgard, Conrad 
Holmes, Julia. 

Haynes, W. B. 

Hennekamp, Oscar. 

Hennekamp, Reuben. 

Hennekamp, Samuel. 

Howe, Mrs. Thomas. 

Howe, Thomas. 

Howe, son of Thomas. 

Howe, Mrs. B. 

Howe, Gertrude. 

Howe, Miss. 

Hornick, John P. 

Hipp, Jessie. 

Howe, W. F. 

Harriss, Mrs. Marg't T. 



Fediman, W. M. 
Forgosch, child. 
Fink, Mary. 
Fisher, Ignatius. 
Frank, Katie. 
Fogarty, Thomas. 
Fitzgerald, Mrs. 
Fenn, John. 
Fenn, Geneveive. 



Gageby, Sarah. 
Greenwald, Rosa. 
Gordon, Miss. 
Gallagher, Mrs. Lizzie. 
Gallagher, Prof. 
Gageby, Mrs. Robt. 
Gromley, Lillie. 
Gerber, Mrs. John. 
Grady, Mrs. John. 
Griffin, Miss. 
Gallagher, Thomas. 
Gardner, Mrs. John. 

H 

Harriss, Maggie. 
Harriss, Sarah. 
Harriss, W. L. 
Hoffman, Charles B. 
Holmes, Mrs. (colored.) 
Hite, Samuel. 
House, Mollie. 
Hellrigle, Mr. 
Hellrigle, Elizabeth. 
Heffley, Edward. 
Hocker, Mrs. 
Hamilton, Jessie. 
Hite, Mrs. Laura. 
Humphrey, William. 
Halstead, Phea. 
Hoffman, Benjamin. 
Hoffman, Minnie. 
Hoffman, Helen. 
Hughes, Emma. 
Haines, W. B. 

Hoffman, Bertha. 

Hoffman, Marion. 

Hoffman. Florence. 

Hoffman, Frederick. 

Hoffman, Joseph. 

Hoffman, Mary. 

Hoffman, Julius. 

Hornick, Mrs. John G. 

Harrigan, Ella. 

Heckman, Frances. 

Harriss, Winnie. 

Hamilton, Jacob. 

Heister, Mrs. 

Hammer, Daniel. 

Hurchman, H. C. 

Hoffman. Harry. 

Hoffman, Gottfried. 
Hill, child ofB. F. 



Fenn, Bismark. 
Fish, Lena. 
Frank, Mrs. John. 
Fleck, Leroy. 
Forest, Frank. 
Foils, Francis. 
Frank, John, Sr. 
Fredericks, Mrs. 



Gard, A., Sr. 
Gilmore, Anthony. 
Gihnore, Abram L. 
Gilmore, Ella. 
Gillen, Laura. 
Goldenburg, Henry. 
Gardner, Rose. 
Goughenour, Frank. 
Gillas, David. 
Gaither, Harry. 
Gardner, Mrs. John. 
Grady, Mrs. John. 

Hughes, Eben. 
Hoffman. Willie. 
Howells, Mrs. M.J. 
Hamilton, Mrs. Alexander. 
Harnish, Blanche. 
Hessler, Andrew. 
Heiny, August. 
Heiny, Mrs. August. 
Harris, Mrs. N. 
Holtzman, Joseph. 
Henning, Mary. 
Henning, John. 
Hayes, child. 
Hass, Mrs. 
Herman, E. 
Hellenberger, Mrs. E. 
Hicks, Ella. 
Haines, Mrs. W. B. 
Heidenthal, Harry- 
Heislein, Harry. 
Horner, Mrs. Anna. 
Howard, Edward. 

Hannan, Eugene. 

Hager, Mrs. George. 

Heiny, child. 

Harris, Mrs. Charles. 

Harriss, Fanny. 

Haines. Laura C. 

Himes, C. C. 

Himes, Mrs. C. C. 

Hust, Charles. 

Hoffman, Will. 

Humm, George C. 

Houston, Miss. 

Hecker, Mrs. 

Hassler, Andrew. 



376 



THE STOR V OF JO HNS TO WN. 



Irwin 


, Maggie. 


James 


, Mrs. John. "• 


Jones, 


Thomas. 


Jones 


, Mrs. E. W. 


Jones, 


Mrs. W. W. 


Jones, 


Mrs. Shad. 


Jones, 


Eliza. 


Jones, 


Annie. 


Jones, 


Richard G. 


Jones, 


Thomas. 


Jones, 


James. 


Jones, 


Edgar. 


Jones, 


Thomas (2). 


Jones, 


Mrs. S. M. 


James, 


Mollie. 


James, 


Mrs. John W. 


Jacobs 


, Lewis. 


J a cob y 


, Tiney. 



Miss, Daniel. 



Just, Mrs. Paul. 
Just, child of Paul. 
Johnson, John. 
Johnson, Mrs. John. 
Johilt, Joseph. 
Jagler, Annie. 
Johnson, David. 
James, Benjamin. 
Jenkins, Thomas. 
James, Lena. 
James, Maggie. 
Jenkins, Mrs. Susan. 
Johnson, David (2). 
Jones, Rachael. 
Jones, Alice. 
Jones, Emma. 
Jones, Abner. 



Jones, Ida. 
Jackson, Mr. 
James, John K. 
Johnson, Geraldine. 
Johnson, Ella. 
Johnson, Lulu. 
Johnson, Dollie. 
Johnson, Lottie. 
Johnson, Lillie. 
Johnson, Frederick. 
Johnson, George. 
Johnson, Gertrude. 
Jack, Mrs. Jennie. 
Janoski, Mrs. Lena. 
Just, Eddie. 
Jones, Tommy. 
Jones, Annie. 



Kies, Charles A. 
Kunkle, Lizzie. 
Knox, Mrs. Thomas. 
Kirlin, Thomas. 
Kirlin, Eddie. 
Kirlin, Frank. 
Keedy, Mrs. Mary. 
Keedy, Howard. 
Knorr, Mrs. 
Knorr, Bertha. 
Kreiger, Katie. 
Kalzenstein, Mrs. 
Knee, George D. 
Keifline, Mrs. Catharine. 
Keifline, Mary. 
Keifer, Mrs. John A. 
Kirkbride, Lydia. 
Kenna, Mrs. Alice. 



K 

Kinney, Mrs. 

Kinney, daughter of Mrs. 

Kroger, Mr. 

Kimpel, Christian. 

Kelley, Mrs. H. 

Kirkbride, Ida. 

Kegg, W. E. 

Knorr, Emma. 

Kidd, Joshua. 

King, Laura. 

Keelan, Mrs. 

Kintz, Mrs. John. 

Kennedy„M. J. 

Kelly, Mrs. Ann. 

Katzenstein (child). 

Kintz, Mary. 

Keelan, Frank. 

Kinney, Lizzie. 



Kintz, Catharine. 
Knable, Leonard. 
Knable, John. 
Kelley, Charles. 
Kirlin, Mrs. Thomas. 
Kane, John. 
Kirby, William. 
Kirby, Mrs. William. 
Kratzer, Mrs. Henry. 
Kilgore, Alexander. 
Kilgore, Alexander, Jr. 
Kinney, Agnes. 
Kast, Clara. 
Keincstul, Samuel. 
Keene, Kate. 
Karns, Joseph. 
Kidd, Mrs. Sarah. 
Kane, John. 



Leitenberger, Mrs, Mary. 
Lynch, Mary. 
Lynch, John. 
Lambreski, John. 
Lambreski, Mrs. 
Lambreski, Mary. 
Little, A. 
Luckhart, Mrs. 
Layton, Ella. 
Layton, William. 
Layton, May. 
Layton, David. 
Long, Samuel. 
Lewis, James. 
Lenhart, Mrs. Samuel. 
Lenhart, Emma. 
Lenhart, Annie. 



Ludwig, Mrs. Kate G. 
Ludwig, Henry. 
Larmer, James. 
Lichtenberger, James. 
Llewellyn, Mrs. J. J. 
Lyden, Mary. 
Larnber, Miss. 
Lewis, Orrie P. 
Leech, Mrs. 
Lucas, Maria (colored). 
Levergood, Lucy. 
Lavely, Sallie. 
Levergood, Jane. 
Leslie, J. S. 
Luther, Minnie. 
Lenhart, Annie. 
Lee, Dr. J. K. 



Luther, Mrs. 
Levi, Edward. 
Lightner, Mrs. James. 
Luhtenberg, Mrs. Rev. 
Lindle, Mary. 
Lotz, Conrad. 
Luckhart, Louis. 
Litz, John. 
Leitenberger, Miss. 
Lenhart, Samuel. 
Linton, Minnie. 
Leech, Alice. 
Leitenberger, Nancy. 
Leitenberger, Leah. 
Lavelle, Michael. 
Lewis, Ananath. 



APPENDIX. 



377 



Murtha, James, Sr. 
Murtha, James, Jr. 
Murtha, Mrs. James. 
Murtha, Frank. 
Murtha, Mary. 
Murtha, Lilly. 
McGee, John. 
McKee, John. 
Mullin, Peter. 
Murray, James. 
Merle, child of J. C. 
McHugh, Gertrude. 
McHugh, Mrs. D. A. 
McHugh, John L. 
Mayhew, Jennie. 
Mayhew, Harry. 
Mayhew, Ernest. 
Mayhew, Annie. 
McDivitt, Mattie. 
Miller, Mrs. 
Murphy, M.J. 
Murphy, J. J. 
Murphy, Bessie. 
Murphy, Miss. 
Murphy, Willie. 
Murphy, Rose. 
Murphy, Kate. 
Macka, August. 
Monteverdo (child). 
Monteverdo (child). 
Majers, M. 
Myers, Elizabeth. 
Myers, Phillip, Jr. 



M 

Murr, Charles. 
Morgan, Mr. 
Manges, Mrs. 
Marbourg, Dr. H. W. 
Malzi, Jacob. 
Montgomery. Alex. 
Marshall, Charles. 
McCoy, Mr. 
Murray, Nellie. 
Marshall, William. 
Meisel, Christ. 
Madden, Mrs. P. 

Monteverdo, . 

Monteverdo, . 

Meredith, Mr. 
Malcom, Cora. 
Mosser, Mrs. 
Morrell, John. 
Masters, Margaret. 
Masterton, Miss. 
Maloy, M. S. 
Miller, Robert. 
Miller, Jessie. 
Maurer, John. 
Morrow, Captain. 
Mingle, Sarah. 
Marks, William. 
Myers, Bernhard. 
McGuire, Kate. 
McAuliffe, Laura. 
Mayhew, Joseph. 
Matthew, Joseph. 
McKinstry. Annie. 



McKinstry, Mrs. 
McKeever, Mrs. 
McNally, Patrick. 
McGinly, James. 
McDowell, Mrs. 
McDowell, George. 
McDowell, Agnes. 

McDowell, . 

Murley, Mr. 
Musser, Charles. 
McClelland, George. 
McAuley, P. 
McConaughy, Wallace. 
Moore, Mrs. C. B. 
McClarren, Samuel. 
McAnemy, Mrs. 
McGlaughliu, Julia. 
Mann, Michael. 
Maloy, Ann. 
McConaghy, J. P. 
McAnemy, Neal. 
Matthews, Thomas. 
McCam, J.J. 
McCam, Mrs. J. 
McConaghy, Mrs. J. P. 
Murr, Maggie. 
Mullin, James. 
McAnemy (seven of family). 
McClain, John. 
Moze, Thomas. 
Mullin, Mrs. Margaret. 
Maley, Henry. 



Nixon, Mrs. R. 
Nixon, Emma. 
Nixon, Eddie. 
Nathan, Adolph. 
Neary, Kate. 
Neary, Mary Ellen. 



N 

Nuse, Conrad. 
Nich, Frank. 
Nich, Mary. 
Noblespeice, Maggie. 
Nixon, Miss. 
Nainbaugh, Henry. 



Newell, August. 
Nice, Eleanor. 
Nadi, Frank. 
Nightly, John. 
Nugent, Man' Jane. 



O'Connell, Captain P. 
O'Connell, Mary. 
O'Connell, Ellen. 
O'Connor, Rosie. 
O'Donnell, Frank. 
O'Donnell, Julia. 
O'Donnell (child). 
Overbeck, William. 
O'Neal, John. 
Oswald, Mrs. 



Oswald, Charles. 
O'Neal (child). 
Overdorf, Jacob. 
Overdorf, Isaac. 
Owens, William, Sr. 
Owens, Willie. 
Owens, Tommy. 
Owens, Ann. 
Owens, Mary Ann. 
Oesterman, Joseph. 



Oyler, George R, 
Owens, David. 
Owens, Mrs. Noah. 
Owens, Daisy. 
Oberlander, Robert. 
O'Neal, Mrs. E. E. 
O'Neal (child). 
Oyler, Man-. 
Ott, Mrs. 



Prosser, Fannie. 
Prosser, Bessie. 
Paulson, Jennie. 



Phillips, Jane. 

Potts, Jane. 

Powell, child of H. P. 



Powell, child of H. P. 
Poland, son of Dr. P. 
Poland, daughter of Dr. P. 



378 



THE STORY OF JOHNSTOWN. 



Phillips, Mrs. E. 
Parsons, Eva May. 
Potter, Joseph, Sr. 
Potter, Mrs. Joseph, Sr. 
Potter, Nora. 
Pike, W. W. 
Pike, W. W.,Jr. 
Pike, Stewart. 
Pike, Fannie. 
Phillips, Mrs. Robert. 
Phillips, John. 



Penrod, William. 
Pritchard, Henry. 
Park, William. 
Park, Mrs. 
Park, Miss. 
Park, Miss. 
Palmer, Mrs. 
Peydon, Campbell. 
Peydon, John W. 
Peydon, Julia. 
Peydon, Georgiana 



Polk, Mrs. John. 
Polk, John. 
Polk (child). 
Powell, son of H. P. 
Pringle, Mary. 
Plummer, Alvin. 
Peninger, Mrs. 
Purse, Mary. 
Peppier, Mrs. 



Quinn, Ellen. 



Q 



Quinn, Vincent. 



Quinn, Mrs. Francis. 



Rogers, Mrs. David. 
Robinson, Thomas. 
Rowland, Rose. 
Rowland, Emma. 
Rubritz, Peter. 
Rubritz, Maggie. 
Reilly, Kate. 
Richards, J. B. 
Robb, Lizzie. 
Robb, Amelia. 
Robb, Norma. 
Robb, George. 
Robb, Mrs. G. B. 
Randolph, George, Jr. 
Roth, John. 
ReidelJohnC. 
Riddle, John G. 
Roth, Mrs. Emil. 
Ripple, Jackson. 
Recke, Alexander. 
Recke, Mrs. Alexander. 



Rosensteel, Mrs. J. M. 
Rose, Harry G. 
Rogers, Mrs. Mary- 
Ross, Joseph. 
Roberts, Mrs. Millard. 
Ream, Mrs. Adolph. 
Reese, Annie. 
Roebrick, G. 
Rhodes, Link. 
Rhodes, Mrs. Link. 
Rhuse, Mrs. 
Ryan, Mrs. John. 
Ryan, John. 
Roland, Louis. 
Roland, Mrs. Louis. 
Rubritz, Teney. 
Rapp, George. 
Roberts, Howard. 
Ranney, Mrs. J. A. 
Reese, John. 
Ripple, Maggie. 



Ross, John A. 
Reese, Sarah. 
Riley, Frank. 
Riley, Mary. 
Rodgers, Patrick. 
Rodgers, Mrs. P. 
Ryan, Bessie. 
Robine (child). 
Robine (child). 
Ressler, John R. 
Reese, Gertie. 
Ross, John D. 
Rosenfelt, Solomon. 
Ryan, Sadie. 
Ryan, Maggie. 
Ryan, Lizzie. 
Rich, Mrs. William. 
Ritter, Mr. 
Rausch, John. 



Swank, Mrs. Morrell. 
Snell, Mary. 
Stophel, Earl. 
Schatz, Mrs. E. 
Schatz, Annie. 
Stuft.John W. 
Stuft, Mrs. John W. 
Spareline, John. 
Schatz, J. 
Suder, Homer. 
Shellhamer, Patrick. 
Statler, Mrs. George. 
Seibert, Henry. 
Stincly, Mrs. 
Streum, John. . 
Strause, Moses. 
St. John, C. P. 
Schaller, Mrs. 
Schaller, Rose. 
Spoiler, Lee. 
Spoiler, Mrs. 



Shomaker, John S. 
Shomaker, Edith M. 
Shomaker, Irene. 
Shomaker, Walter S. 
Schnable, John. 
Schnable, Conrad. 
Schnable, Mrs. C. 
Swineford, Mrs. Edward. 
Swineford, Mary A. 
Schick, Cyrus H. 
Stinson, Eliza. 
Stahn, Frederick. 
Sharkey, Mary. 
Sentz, Mary. 
Stophel, Margaret C. 
Surany, David. 
Spitz, Walter D. 
Swank, Mrs. N. 
Swank, Jacob. 

Swank, . 

Swank, . 



Swank , . 

Speer, Mrs. L. E. 
Strayer, Mrs. J. B. 
Strayer, Myrtle. 
Statler, Frank. 
Snyder, Mary. 
Swank, Frederick. 
Schmitz, Gustave. 
Schutz, Jacob. 
Saylor, Henry. 
Schonviski, Miss. 
Schittenhelm, Antony. 
Schittenhelm, Antony, Jr. 
Schry, William. 
Schubert, C. T. 
Steives, Lewis. 
Slick, Josephine. 
Strauss, Charles. 
Stern, Bella. 
Skinner, John. 
Skeebaugh, Mrs. 



APPENDIX. 



379 



Schaffer, Jacob. 
Snell, Mr. 
Schifthaur, John. 
Schiver, George. 
Schriver, Neat. 
Stinsman, James. 
Spareline, Jacob. 
Sharpler, Jacob, Sr. 
Scharpler, Jacob. 
Saluntv, E. 

Shellhamner, Lawrence. 
Schnorr, Charles. 
Stophel, Bertha. 
Statler, Amelia. 
Statler, May. 
Stremel, Julius R. 



Strayer, Cora. 
Stick, Nancy. 
Sweeny, Ann. 
Shaffer, Howard. 
Smith, Ralph. 
Schultica, Henry. 
Silverman, Moses. 
Sarlouis, Grace. 
Sarlouis, Barbara. 
Singer, Mrs. E. H. 
Strauss (child). 
Stitt, Mr. 
Shelley, H. 
Smith, Arthur. 
Smith, Mrs. J. L. 
Smith, Hettie H. 



Smith, Mrs. Thomas. 
Smith, Mrs. John. 
Smith, John. 
Smith, Miss. 
Smith, William. 
Smith, Mrs.H. K. 
Smith, Robert. ■ 
Smith, child of J. L. 
Smith, child of J. L. 
Smith, child of J. L. 
Smith, Mrs, Martin. 
Schrantz, John. 
Smith, Mrs. Philip. 
Schultz, Joseph. 

Schonviski, . 

Schonviski, . 



Thomas, Edward. 
Thomas, Lydia. 
Tittle, Cyrus P. 
Thoburn, Thomas. 
Thoburn, Jennie. 
Tross, Mrs. M. 
Tucker, Lillian G. 
Trindle, JohnW. 



Tacy. Peter L. 
Thomas, Sylvester. 
Thomas, John. 
Thurn, Levi. 
Temple, Leroy. 
Tucker, Reuben. 
Tucker, Mrs. 
Thomas, Mrs. Edward. 



Thomas, Miss. 
Trawatha, Mrs. 
Tyler, John. 
Thomas, Jenkin. 
Tarbell, Mrs. Forney. 
Turner, Mary. 



Unverzaght, George. 
Unverzaght, George, Jr. 



Unverzaght, Daniel. 
Unverzaght, John. 



Unmoen, Karl. 
Updegraf, James. 



Viering, Lizzie. 
Viering, Mrs. Henry. 
Viering, Herman. 



White, Mary P. 
Worthington, Mary. 
Wehn, Mrs. Rachael. 
Wehn, Mrs. William. 
Wehm, Annie.- 
Wehm, Annie Q. 
Wehm, Johnnie. 
Wagoner, Frankie. 
Wagoner, Dr. John. 
Wagoner, Cora. 
Wells, Jennie. 
Wild. Mrs. Jacob. 
Wheat, Frank. 
Weakland, John. 
Werry, Albert. 
Wolf, Jennie. 
Werberger, William. 
Weaver, Mrs. Sue. 
Weaver, John D. 
Williams, Joseph. 
Wener. Carl. 



Vonalt, Henry- 
Vonalt, Mrs. 



w 

Wener, Mrs. Carl. 
Wener, Mary- 
Williams, D. J. 

Williams, . 

Wilson, Dr. J. C. 

Winser, . 

White, Ella. 
White, Maggie. 
White, Minnie. 
Will, Mrs. Elizabeth. 
Will, Casper. 
Williams, Carrie. 
Wertz, Luther. 
Woolf, Mrs. Morris. 
Webber, E. Vincent. 
Webber, Mrs. E. V. 
Wagoner, Mrs. Mary. 
Wagoner, Henry. 
Wolford. Frank. 
Wien, Frank. 
Workestein, . 



Vinton, Margaret. 
Voeghtly, Mrs. 



Wolford, A. 
Wagner, Lizzie. 
Welsh, James. 
Welsh, Thomas. 
Worthington, Mrs. 
Worthington (child). 
Warren, Willie. 
Williams, W.J. 
Wise, Mrs. Morton. 
Wilson, Charles H. 
Willower, Bertha. 
Wissinger, J. C. 
Weinzerl, Mr. 
Weinzerl, Mrs. 
Weinzerl, Martha. 
Weinzerl, Sarah. 
Weinzerl, Mollie. 
Warsing, Jennie. 
Warkeston, Miss. 



3 8o 



THE STOR Y OF JOHNSTO WN. 



Young, Katie. 
Young, Augustus. 
Young, A. C. 



Young, Samuel. 
Yost, Lottie. 
Young, Emil. 



Young, Frank. 
Youst, Edward. 
Yocum, Samuel 



Zimmerman, Morgan. 
Zimmerman, Theodore F. 



Zimmerman, Miss. 
Zeller, Rose. 



Ziegler, J. B. 
Zern, Miss. 







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